Team Nutter on the City Hall Parking Lot

cityhallparkinglot

Philly Mag published a story this morning explaining the role of the Mayor’s Office in managing parking on the sidewalk/apron on the northern edge of City Hall. We didn’t have any comment from the Nutter administration then. This evening, we got responses to questions emailed to press secretary Mark McDonald on Monday (McDonald says he did not get that or several subsequent emails, and did not see the questions until after our story ran). Here they are in full.

Philly Mag: What is the administration’s policy on City Hall apron parking?

Nutter Administration: City Hall is both the seat of government and a large office complex. Apron parking is provided on a case-by-case basis, often related to visiting guests, deliveries being made, on-going building repair and servicing and instances where a person with a disability is accommodated. With limited space available, these requests are handled on a daily basis. There is also an authorized parking list, with a number of individuals who have had temporary parking while Dilworth Park was under construction. The Park has reduced perimeter street parking. Those with temporary apron parking will be reassigned to street parking when the parking lanes have been repainted and spaces are reconfigured.
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Here’s Who’s Parking on City Hall’s Doorstep



Update: Read the Nutter administration’s response to questions on City Hall parking here.

The new $55 million Dilworth Park has its critics, but I’ve become a big fan. It gives City Hall badly needed context, and the scale of the plaza creates a real sense of grandeur… right up until the moment you stroll past the Garces cafe and encounter the sad, parochial scene of dozens of VIP vehicles squatting on the northern apron of City Hall, as though it were a parking lot outside an Upper Darby laundromat.

Yes, city workers and officials have been parking on the apron for years (more on that later), but it looks like the traffic has grown heavier in recent months, or perhaps it just feels that way given the jarring juxtaposition that now exists between City Hall’s graceful, Global City-esque western approach, and the loading-dock vibe a few steps to the north.

I’m far from the only one to have noticed. Jonathan Poet, an editor at the Associated Press, recently dedicated a Tumblr to the City Hall Parking Lot. Urbanist warrior Geoff Kees Thompson cited the apron parking as an glaring example of “city leadership undervaluing and undermining its public space for the sake of the car.”

I think there’s more to it than that. VIP parking on City Hall’s front stoop reeks of entitlement. People find it enraging and insulting because it’s shorthand for oh-so-much: lack of concern for the city’s aesthetic appeal, the political class’ overblown sense of its own importance, general disregard for … you get the idea.

Let’s get to what everyone wants to know: Who is it that actually parks there?
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Philadelphia’s Christmas Tree Will Be Inside the City Hall Courtyard

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

In response to a question on Twitter, the Center City District confirmed that the City of Philadelphia’s Christmas tree will not be in the newly opened Dilworth Park just west of City Hall. It will be in the City Hall courtyard.

The Center City District says the city made the decision to put the three in the courtyard instead of next to the park’s new ice rink, which will open on November 14th. The Center City District plans to light the already-exising trees in Dilworth Park.

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The Three City Charter Questions on Tuesday’s Ballot, in Plain English

shutterstock_172913240-VOTE-BALLOT-QUESTION-MARK-940X540

There are three questions up for vote in Tuesday’s primary election, but they’ll be awfully difficult to understand if you’re seeing them for the first time when you’re in the voting booth. Here, with some help from our friends at the Committee of Seventy, is each question broken down into plain English. Then we break it down into even plainer English.

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Analysis: What the PGW Flop Means

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia’s bid to become the nation’s next great energy hub is a stool built on three legs. The pitch goes a little like this.

“Hey petrochemical and energy behemoths, Philly is the city that loves you back. 1) We’re just 100 miles from the Marcellus Shale, the biggest gas reserve in the nation. 2) We’ve got infrastructure! Ports. Rail lines. Refineries. Proximity to markets. 3) The political climate is warm and welcoming. Come on down. You’re going to get those approvals, you’ve got a political class anxious for jobs and economic development. No undue hassles here!”

On Monday, in rejecting the privatization of the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works, City Council gave a swift kick to that third leg of the stool.

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Architype: Civic Studies

Renderings are beginning to meet reality.

A rendering of Dilworth Park.

I guess “romping” is the word for what children were doing on the first day I visited the revamped Dilworth Plaza. Maybe “gamboling.” “Frolicking”? Some were frolicking. There are many words to choose from in the 10-pound thesaurus I recently scored at a used bookstore. Point is, they were having serious fun as they ran through jets of water, adults watching from multicolored cafe chairs. At one point, I saw an African-American kid, an Asian kid and a Latina kid invent a game together. I wouldn’t have been surprised if John Lennon had popped out from behind the puffy clouds to sing “Imagine.”

Not only that — people were reading the new informational panels. They were strolling to the “cafe.” They were chatting in areas that’ll be green space this time next year, and they were walking on pathways that they’ll be able to glide along in ice skates just months from now.

To say this is not the Dilworth Plaza I’m familiar with, as a native Philadelphian, is an understatement.

I turned to my companion and said, “I know there will be naysayers, but I won’t hear a word against it.”

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Activists: Immigration Enforcement Shifting to Philly Suburbs

Immigration authorities have moved the bulk of their enforcement activities to the suburbs since Mayor Nutter ended cooperation with the feds during the spring, an immigrant-rights group reports.

“In some counties ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) meets with the district attorney twice per week,” said Jasmine Rivera, lead organizer for Juntos, a Philadelphia immigrant-rights organization. “In Chester county the juvenile court system reports all undocumented juveniles to ICE. Driver’s license check-points are used to identify undocumented immigrants. And we have noticed an increase of arrests in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where there are no ICE hold policies”
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School Boards, Elections, and Philadelphia’s Utterly Failed Democracy

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Maybe democracy in Philadelphia isn’t working so well.

That’s not a novel observation, I realize, but it takes on new urgency with the growing campaign to dissolve the School Reform Commission. What would replace it? Maybe a mayoral-appointed panel — not too different from the SRC, but with more local accountability — but maybe, maybe an elected school board.

You know: One accountable directly to the voters and taxpayers of Philadelphia.

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NBC Butchered Philadelphia’s Geography for Sunday Night Football

skyline-philly

The Eagles’ 27-0 demolition of the New York Giants Sunday night wasn’t just the Eagles’ first blowout victory of the season. It was a blowout victory on national television. Football fans across the country were forced to see the Eagles’ impressive win, even if they hate the Birds! (Right, as if NFL fans would have turned off a game of football. Eh, maybe when it got later into the game.)

NBC’s studio set for the game was appropriately Philadelphia-themed. The only problem: NBC completely butchered Philadelphia’s geography. Yes, the backdrop is supposed to be a stylized version of Philadelphia. It’s still hilarious. Let’s count the ways:

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