September 24: Cig tax heads to Corbett | Rail park zoning | Density without height

The state Senate passed the local cigarette tax for Philly schools, and the bill now heads to Governor Corbett. This is being treated in some corners like a “huge victory” for the PSD, but for a reality check, Ron Whitehorn of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) has pointed out that “even if the cigarette tax was passed and the revenue projections held up, it would not be enough money to maintain the status quo, let alone restore the massive cuts that were made last year.” City Council approved a bill borrowing $30 million for the school district.

A 10-year-old boy riding his bike at school was hit and dragged 50 feet by an SUV driver earlier this month in Northeast Philly, and the city hasn’t filed any charges yet. The family is asking for donations to hold a simple funeral. 

Philadelphia county has the second most man-made environmental hazards of the nation’s 50 largest counties, according to a report from RealtyTrac. Unsurprisingly, this correlates with lower home values.

What kind of buildings do we want to see near the Reading Viaduct rail park? Mia Moffett at This Old City says Philly should take a lesson from New York City’s successful use of tradable development rights in the neighborhood around the High Line. The current zoning around the Philly rail park’s first phase is fairly stingy with development rights, with allowable density and mixed-use opportunities dropping off quickly just north of Spring Garden St.

The University of Pennsylvania campus is one of America’s most car-independent university neighborhoods, according to City Clock’s read of the 2010 Census data on work commuting trips. Their lower estimate is 7.5% work trips made by car, with a higher estimate of 26.6%. 

Neighborhoods can absorb a lot of population growth without much taller buildings, says Duncan Black. “Parking and setbacks are the anti-density forces. You can fit a lot of people in a neighborhood of 3 story rowhouses if there isn’t a massive amount of off street parking and setbacks.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto tells Streetfilms he wants Pittsburgh to “leapfrog” other cities’ progress on safe walking and biking infrastructure. That’s a direct challenge to Michael Nutter’s stated goal of making Philadelphia the most bike-friendly city on the east coast.

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