July 11: Viaduct tax delinquency | Protesting in the street | Falls Bridge Lofts

Good morning, Philly. Let’s make this a better week, and for you regional rail commuters, here’s to a new contingency schedule for SEPTA.

If money is among the most significant obstacles to realizing the Rail Park vision, could tax foreclosure help? Inga Saffron asked the Revenue department for property records: “After weeks of digging, officials determined that there were at least 25 parcels adjacent to the viaduct held by a variety of owners. Together, they owe $1.26 million in back taxes. More surprising is what the city discovered about the viaduct, which had been exempt from property taxes while it was a functioning railroad. After the trains stopped running, the city neglected to list the viaduct on its tax rolls.” Michael Piper, the head of the Office of Property Assessment told Saffron that the Reading Company owes taxes back to 1984.

For days runningPhiladelphia streets, like those in other major cities, have been the scene of anguished but peaceful demonstrations, protests set in motion by the killing of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota last week by police officers. For NewsWorks Bobby Allyn covered a march through North Philly on Friday evening, Bas Slabbers shared views of another Saturday.

Writing for PhillyMag, Kevin Harden, Jr. offers a thoughtful look at the tough changes that are required to stop police killings, from decriminalizing poverty to radically improving mechanisms for police discipline. Harden is an attorney and former prosecutor, whose best friend was killed by police in 2013.

Yet more residential development is coming to East Falls, Naked Philly reports: Overbrook Real Estate Investors are converting a property on Ridge Avenue near Calumet into a 46-unit residential building they’re calling Falls Bridge Lofts.

The Water Department is conducting its lead tests and is looking for households to participate, reports West Philly Local.

Building protected bikeways could get more difficult, Streetsblog reports, due to changes in ways U.S. DOT seeks to measure highway (read federal road) congestion: speed. For that reason any slowdown on major arterials from interventions like bike infrastructure, even though it may reduce congestion, could be blocked on the grounds that it prevents the highest speed of travel. People for Bikes offers a petition asking the Federal Highway Administration to reconsider. 

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