City Council's most interesting action: What they didn't vote on

Proposals on billboards, parking face differing opinions

Pat Loeb
May 23, 2018 - 4:08 pm

Dreamstime

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was a busy day for City Council. 

Per a new bill, an area once known for the setting of the horror movie "Eraserhead" will be revitalized to become a business district.

City Council's Rules Committee approved half a dozen bills Wednesday, including adding the business sector for the Callowhill neighborhood.

But some of the most interesting action was what bills the committee didn't vote on.

First, park advocates came ready to do battle over a bill that would have authorized a billboard in a sliver of Fairmount Park facing the Schuylkill Expressway. They got an unexpected ally: Former Mayor Bill Green.

"I haven't spoken in City Council for 35 years," he admitted. He felt strongly enough about the issue to make a very rare appearance. "It's a desecration of the city's crown jewel."

The bill's sponsor, Councilman Curtis Jones, believes the former mayor misunderstood where the billboard would go and why, but was chastened enough to hold off on the bill. 

For now, the billboard will remain where it is, further west on the Schuylkill.

The committee also revived a bill introduced nearly two years ago that would require new residential development to provide three parking spaces for every 10 units.

Although council members seemed to support the measure, testimony was overwhelmingly opposed.

Committee Chair Bill Greenlee seemed to favor it.

"Parking is just a huge problem. It's just the reality," he said.

But Chloe Finigan of the Clean Air Council said it conflicts with many of City Council's other goals.

"This would be a regressive policy change that prioritizes parking over affordable housing, transit-oriented development and public health," she said.

The committee amended the bill and postponed a vote until next month.