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Their son got lead poisoning and the city treated them like slumlords

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“It totally didn’t need to get escalated to this point, says Germantown family”

The stately, stone twin house on a hill in Germantown was 125 years old, and Emmalee and Jason MacDonald basked in visions of starting, and raising, a family there.

A wall of windows lets the sun into a spacious, open kitchen, which was cool considering Jason’s background in the food industry. And it had a wood-burning fireplace, a flagstone patio, marble countertops, a huge basement, four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.

They bought it in 2012. A pair of children would soon follow. Things were going according to plan, but five years in, their dreams turned to the sort of nightmares that consume a family’s every waking moment.

Instead of savoring their home on West Price Street, they’ll soon post a For Sale sign out front of the house they no longer occupy.

Who’s to blame for their dream falling apart? The City of Philadelphia, the MacDonalds say, which dragged them into court and painted them, in legal documents, as slumlords – even as they worked night and day to ensure their home was safe for their two young sons.

AN ALL-TOO-COMMON PHILADELPHIA STORY

Stories about childhood lead poisoning are nothing new in Philadelphia, an old city with old homes and walls covered in old paint.

Realtors know it to the point of saying buyers and sellers accept it as the local norm. That reality prompted the creation of a Lead and Healthy Homes Program in the city Health Department which issues reports like the one titled “Lead-Free Kids: Preventing Lead Poisoning in Philadelphia” while serving as a clearinghouse of related information.

The program’s primary aim to protect children from getting lead poisoning which, in homes featuring lead paint, is most commonly acquired by ingesting paint chips or breathing in lead-laden dust.

The program presents itself as one that helps families facing such problems in the homes they own or, more commonly, rent. City health officials maintain they provide that assistance, though say they could use more personnel to do it more effectively.

But the program did just the opposite for the MacDonalds as they grappled with concerns about whether their son – whose name they wanted left out of this story – suffered the sort of developmental challenges that could afflict him for life.

“The lead problem in Philadelphia is serious and it is overwhelming. The city government absolutely has to be involved and have a process for addressing lead poisoning in children,” explained Emmalee, a tax accountant. “But there has got to be a better way.”

To start, the city needs to ensure residents actually receive notifications from the program about expectations and deadlines, the MacDonalds said. And residents need to be able ask questions of lead-program staff who have knowledge of their cases. The MacDonalds say none of that happened; the Health Department countered that officials had difficulty getting responses from the MacDonalds.

“I would not be surprised if all the time I spent documenting and escalating our case did nothing, even though many people seemed to be appalled by it,” Emmalee said. “The Lead and Healthy Homes program misrepresented themselves as a ‘helpful’ program, but they were far from helpful.”

SEVEN LONG MONTHS

Emmalee MacDonald documented the family’s case with painstaking commitment.

Her timeline starts on April 6, 2017 and doesn’t miss a detail or an opportunity to share recommendations about how the city can do better.

It starts on the day they received results from their son’s two-year well visit to the pediatrician. The toe-prick blood test found substantially elevated levels of lead. The results were, as required, promptly reported to the city.

Emmalee and Jason thought back to the one-year well visit, when traces of lead were found. To them, that red flag should’ve started a conversation.

“Had we been provided simple educational materials and information regarding resources to protect him,” Emmalee said of her son, “we likely could have prevented the significant exposure that occurred once he was mobile and getting around the house.”

They didn’t, so they had to wait a year to figure out that their old house featured underlayers of lead-based paint and/or dust. (Lead-based paint was outlawed in 1978.)

“The lack of urgency on the city’s part caused approximately three-weeks-to-a-month delay in our overall ability to address the problem.” – Emmalee MacDonald

They wanted to get to work remediating the problems quickly but their calls to the Lead and Healthy Homes program went unreturned for more than a week, as evidenced by mobile phone records.

They moved out of the house a week after receiving those results. “We realized there was more we could do to make the home safe and prevent further exposure,” Emmalee said.

“We were very anxious to get started in making our home safe, but were extremely overwhelmed and had no idea what type of service the city might be able to provide,” she continued. “The lack of urgency on the city’s part caused approximately three-weeks-to-a-month delay in our overall ability to address the problem.”

Around that time, Jason took a lead-renovator certification course so he could help restore the home to safe condition for the children.

A lead-program caseworker finally reached out, and wanted to know why the MacDonalds didn’t wait to hear from her before getting to work. The answer is simple: the couple says they grew tired of waiting.

The couple agreed to meet the caseworker in Germantown on April 21, where they were handed three pamphlets (“5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Lead Poisoning,” “Possible Sources of Lead in Your Home” and “Foods that Help Prevent Lead Poisoning”) that contained information they’d already by then learned on their own.

“The city inspector was still not finished with the inspection at 2 p.m. and explained she would have to come back because she ‘had already worked late the day before and wasn’t going to work late again,’” Emmalee recalled.

Eventually, the caseworker’s report would say the MacDonalds were out of compliance. But they were told “that we should not get too alarmed, that (the case worker) knew it would take us quite some time to address all the issues in the report,” Emmalee said.

The couple says it never received notification – as the city claimed it sent – that they had to eliminate all the lead-based hazards within 30 days. Even if it had, they would have just blown it off as they were told to do by the caseworker.

Jason, along with professionals they’d hired, worked tirelessly through June 20, 2017. Bathtubs were reglazed. Rooms encapsulated to keep lead dust contained. HVAC vents replaced. Radiators painted and fitted with new covers.

Their son’s lead levels were receding, which offered a modicum of relief.

After moving out of the West Price Street home, they went to live with a relative in Allentown. Three months later, they took an Airbnb in Mt. Airy to be closer to work and medical professionals, eventually racking up $5,400 in rental bills.

Meanwhile, an “unable to contact” notice was left at the Germantown home, even though the family had told the city they no longer were living there. (City health department officials said it’s unusual, but not unheard of, for a notice to be left at a home.)

The MacDonalds say their follow-up emails were met with silence. Not even knowing they were on a deadline to get the work done, they were told an “extension” would be requested on their behalf.

At another meeting at the house, the lead-program caseworker handed Jason a business card that served as a recommendation to use a roofer.

“Performing a quick search of Facebook, it became clear that (the roofer) was her boyfriend,” said Emmalee, handing over a photo of the smiling couple.

“We are not slumlords that are ignoring this problem. We are parents doing everything we can.” – Emmalee MacDonald

Then came August 24, 2017.

Jason was finishing up a day’s work at the house that still held promise as a place they could raise their family. Wearing a respirator, he was about to vacuum the porch, when he was served papers. The couple was being taken to court by the city. The civil complaint filed against them essentially compared them to bad landlords who endanger tenants.

“We are not slumlords that are ignoring this problem. We are parents doing everything we can,” she said. “We are not endangering our child. Quite the contrary. We spent countless amounts of time and money on this process to ensure that our home is as safe as possible for our children.

“As a person who’s proud to call Philadelphia home and has chosen to lay roots here with my children rather than move to the suburbs, I was sorely disappointed by the lack of support we received through this process, but more so by the fact that the city actually caused us much more distress all while we have been trying to do everything we can for our family.”

Things were about to get worse.

PHILLY VS. THE MACDONALDS

The case of the City of Philadelphia vs. Jason and Emmalee MacDonald was filed in Common Pleas Court on August 23, 2017.

It threatened that a lien could be placed on the property if they didn’t “provide lead-safe alternative housing for tenants” and a $300 daily fine for each day the conditions weren’t corrected.

“To date, defendant-owners have failed and/or refused to abate the conditions within the required time,” the complaint read. “The condition … presents a serious and immediate health hazard.”

This infuriated the couple. They’d taken the onus of working to make their home safe despite a nascent city agency’s inability to communicate with them in a constructive, timely manner.

“Every day was like a fire that had to be put out. It was just devastating,” Jason said during a recent interview in the Price Street dining room. “All it takes is one gram of dust to contaminate a room. That’s a sugar packet at a diner, for reference. We’ve never had to do anything so challenging. I don’t know what else we could have done.”

The Health Department maintains the family could have done a better job responding to their requests.

“All it takes is one gram of dust to contaminate a room. That’s a sugar packet at a diner.” – Jason MacDonald

“After we came out and did the initial testing, we weren’t getting the responses we needed from them,” said James Garrow of the Philadelphia Department of Health, noting MacDonalds declined an offer of a grant in lieu of remediating the site on their own.

As the legal case hovered over them, the couple spent the fall caring for their children, fixing the home and appearing in a City Hall courtroom to get their side of the case on the record. They wanted the city to drop what they considered to be a bogus case or, at a minimum, allow them to get their response on the public record.
“It’s completely taken over our lives,” Jason said. “It totally didn’t need to get escalated to this point.”

Emmalee reached out to City Council members, including Blondell Reynolds Brown’s office, and city officials for help, with some degree of success. The fact that their case was a topic of discussion in City Hall offered some measure of comfort.

Before an October 11 hearing, they hired an attorney. It had become too much for them to handle alone.

That hearing was supposed to close the case. Before it could happen, though, a city-mandated cleaning team was to give the home a thorough scrubbing to help it pass lead contamination tests.

“We thought the worst that would happen would be the cleaning team not showing up,” Emmalee said back in the fall. “Nope. The city topped it. They showed up, said they couldn’t do the job and left. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.”

‘PHILLY … DID THIS TO US’

To Matthew Monroe, the MacDonalds’ attorney, the case was about getting the city to admit that the couple did everything they could to protect their children and remediate the issues. The complaint, he said, “treated loving parents no different than they’d treat a slumlord taking money from a poor family while doing nothing to make the property safer.” And there were factual errors in the document, he maintained.

“They were talking to Health Department officials who told them they were going above and beyond,” Monroe said. “It was pretty obvious that they just pulled facts out of a stack of papers and filed the complaint.”

His ultimate goal was getting the city to stipulate that the MacDonalds weren’t negligent parents, but the city “just wouldn’t do that.” He presumed that’s because doing so would be an admission that their sworn documents were faulty.

“It’s clear to everyone that the facts in the petition were wrong,” he said. “From a policy perspective, how can they go back and say ‘We dragged these people into court because we couldn’t get our paperwork straight?'”

“We live in a city where some insane proportion of houses have lead paint. Lead poisoning is a fact of life, and we’re working hard to remediate it, but it’s everywhere.” – James Garrow, Philadelphia Department of Health

At that October hearing before Judge Nina Wright Padilla in Courtroom 446 in City Hall, Emmalee asked for the chance to address the court.

She explained how their two sons – ages two-and-a-half and eight months at that point – had not been inside the home since the time of the diagnosis. (The younger child showed no elevated levels).

Padilla responded that it’s “great” that they’re “ahead of the game.” The lead-program attorneys then objected to Emmalee being able to make a statement at all, but she was given the chance to proceed – briefly.

She spoke about the “devastating news” regarding their son, and about the frustration related to the city’s lack of response in those early days.

The prosecutors objected again. Padilla honored their request, stating that she “just wants the children to be safe,” as if the MacDonalds didn’t want the same.

They were in and out of court within five minutes, with a continuance granted. Jason was incensed that the judge cut Emmalee off as if she doesn’t want the children to be safe.

A few weeks later, the home passed a follow-up test and Monroe filed a response to the city’s complaint. He wanted the action to be dismissed with prejudice.

The attorney noted that the home seller didn’t disclose lead-paint hazards, the couple did not get the notifications the city said they had, that lead-program officials “knew (the MacDonalds) were doing everything in (their) power to remediate the lead hazard” and that the city knew the children weren’t in danger because they hadn’t been living at the property.

November would bring resolution, but not total victory.

The case would be dismissed with prejudice, but all that means is that the MacDonalds’ response would be part of the formal record.

“I’m just sad about this whole ordeal,” Emmalee said. “Philly, the city I loved, did this to us. I feel like the city failed us and I’m not sure what to do with all these emotions. We have the means to make changes, to leave the environment. I’m sure that the majority of people that this is happening to don’t have those means, and that makes me angry.”

It even got under their attorney’s skin, who rued the “adversarial process.”

THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

Emmalee and Jason MacDonald will soon put their once-beloved house on the market. They’re frustrated. They’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on remediation and attorney’s fees.

They are currently renting a townhouse in Roxborough as they ponder the future.

“Even though we spent a ton of time and money remediating and making the home as safe as possible, we just don’t know how we’d feel living there,” Emmalee explained. “Ultimately, we felt like this was the best thing to do. The whole ordeal has been so draining that we’re just trying to determine what we want our next steps to be.”

Emmalee still hopes the city will take her recommendations to heart, considering that she’s been on the other side.

“There’s got to be a better way,” she said.

Garrow, of the health department, conceded that he wished they had substantially more personnel to get out there and help families.

“We live in a city where some insane proportion of houses have lead paint,” he said on Friday. “Lead poisoning is a fact of life, and we’re working hard to remediate it, but it’s everywhere.”

The MacDonalds’ son has seen his lead levels continue to drop, though it remains above the threshold for concern. His speech development, while still delayed, is improving.

Neither is entirely comfortable with their story being told extensively and publicly.

It could impact their son’s privacy.

It could scare off potential buyers, even before they read about it in the property disclosures.

Still, they said they wanted to speak publicly in an effort to draw more attention to an important issue.

“If they don’t at least use us to make sure this doesn’t happen again, I will be so upset,” Emmalee said.

Garrow understands their plight.

“This is a horrible thing and it must be terribly scary for them,” he said. “I have three kids and I couldn’t fathom what they’ve gone through.”

It’s not all about passive resignation, though.
After that October hearing, Jason MacDonald fired back at a city that turned his family’s lives into a horror show for the better part of a year.

He brought a 3M lead-testing kit to the courtroom.

After the judge stifled his wife’s pleas to be heard, he walked out into the hallway, reached into his suit jacket pocket and removed the swab.

Then, he found a section of broken paint along the Lead Courtroom’s door jamb and swabbed.

When the area turned pink, indicating the presence of lead, Jason just shook his head.

The courtroom that hosted so much of their family’s pain was exposing visitors to potential lead poisoning.

“I just feel like it was a huge waste of time,” Emmalee said last week. “The city spent all this time on the case, and I don’t feel like anything was actually accomplished.”

ORIGINAL POST: http://www.phillyvoice.com/lead-poisoning-germantown-family-philadelphia-health-department-nightmare-slumlords/

What should Philly expect in a new Zoning Board chair?

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During the 2015 mayoral race Jim Kenney expressed a desire to professionalize the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) and ensure that it operated in a fair and “speedier” fashion. In almost the same breath, the would-be mayor noted political considerations would also play a role. When he appointed Jim Moylan, head of the Pennsport Civic Association, he accomplished a little of both.

By all reports Moylan did move the board’s meetings along at a steadier clip, although some observers were unhappy with his background and his ties to International Brotherhood of Electricians Local 98, which supported Kenney’s candidacy. As a recent Inquirer editorial epitomizing this perspective put it, “what exactly was a chiropractor doing heading the zoning board in the first place?”

When Moylan resigned as chair of the ZBA two weeks ago, much of the coverage focused on his connection to the ongoing FBI investigation targeting Local 98. Union chief John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and his political power seem to be at the center of the case and the obscure but powerful ZBA is, as Jared Brey argued, the most direct manifestation of the electricians’ power in government. Although Moylan led the Pennsport Civic Association, an RCO for the neighborhood that includes Dougherty’s FBI-raided house, he also served as the labor leader’s chiropractor and as a political consultant for the union.

For those who pay close attention to the ZBA and its workings—zoning lawyers, developers, planners, and community groups—Moylan’s resignation is meaningful for reasons beyond the FBI drama. For them, the position is one of the more important functions in city government and its future leadership is of immediate consequence.

The ZBA considers zoning appeals and special exceptions, dispensing variances, which allow developers to diverge from a property’s underlying zoning rules. The body meets twice a week to consider the hundreds of cases that come before it ever year.

The ZBA is considered one of the most quietly powerful boards in the city, but its prominence and caseload were supposed to be greatly reduced by the zoning reform law of 2012. By bringing the city’s zoning up-to-date, the need for variances would theoretically have been diminished; more base zoning would be brought in line with existing and sensible uses.

Instead the board still considers far more cases than its counterpart in New York, a city that is almost six times as large and enjoys far hotter real estate market. The ZBA also still grants the overwhelming majority of appeals that come before it, even as the process of updating the city’s zoning map progresses, take current uses, market demands, and community preferences into account.

Since Moylan’s departure the ZBA’s schedule has gone forward as normal under acting chair, Carol Tinari, the ZBA’s vice chair, longest-serving current member, and lone holdover from the Nutter years. (The commissioner for Licenses and Inspections, David Perri, is available to ensure a quorum if the need arises.) But the question of who will replace Moylan looms large over the future of development, and city planning, in Philadelphia.

Moylan’s tenure at the head of the ZBA was defined by efficacy, or depending on who you ask, pure speed. He also had a reputation for being exceedingly gracious in his board’s approval of variances. But his predecessors, Julia Chapman and Lynette Brown-Sow, approved 90 percent of all variance requests brought before the ZBA so Moylan’s ability to be even more generous was limited.

From the perspective of many developers and the zoning lawyers who represent them, Moylan’s ZBA wasn’t defined by the variances granted but by a more predictable and rational regimen. Under prior chairs, Wednesday hearings sometimes lasted deep into the evening hours. Developers’ representatives and the interested community groups would argue their cases relentlessly, often delving into issues beyond the purview of the ZBA.

“He [Kenney] should look for someone just like Dr. Moylan,” says Joe Beller, a zoning lawyer who has practiced in Philadelphia since the 1960s. “He kept things moving, he was courteous to everybody but didn’t allow people who were testifying to digress into areas over which the zoning board had no power or control. He was a master of keeping things on track and I thought he ran an extremely efficient board.”

Developers’ representatives appreciated this propensity to move through the docket at a rapid clip, which meant their clients wouldn’t get hit with bills of unpredictable size for hours spent fruitlessly waiting for the case to come up.

“Going forward it would be nice to see someone maintain that continuity and keep the trains running on time,” says Matt Monroe, a commercial zoning lawyer with Spruce Law who has been presenting cases before the ZBA for the past three and a half years.

Like Beller, Monroe and the other zoning lawyers interviewed for this article emphasized that Moylan’s propensity for moving quickly through the caseload is essential in a city where, three years after a new zoning code went into effect, zoning remains unpredictable.

“We did update the zoning code, but city council is constantly changing it,” says Monroe. “We also have an issue with remapping, where a number of areas of the city remain up in the air. When you have a changing zoning code and an incomplete map, a strict planning approach can crush reasonable projects that can really benefit communities.”

But many critics of the ZBA feel that the body is breezily efficient and that its proclivity for dispensing variances and exceptions undercuts the attempted rationalization of the zoning code. The remapping process is still incomplete, but sections of the city have been updated and presumably the effects should be apparent at the ZBA.

“The board has always said yes to the vast majority of cases, and I think the ZBA just says yes too much,” says Greg Pastore, a landlord and former chair of Bella Vista’s zoning committee who served on the Zoning Code Commission that rewrote the code and then on the ZBA. The Kenney administration did not renew his appointment. “The simplistic answer is the [new head of the] board should say no to some things that don’t have a reasonable hardship argument.”

Having some kind of hardship is the baseline reason zoning relief may be granted, but that is not the standard actually used in evaluating most zoning appeals here.

For Pastore, the ZBA simply doesn’t take enough time to consider each individual case. What looks like efficacy and speed to a development-side zoning lawyer is instead an inability or unwillingness to take into consideration the dictates of the zoning code or the specifics of each individual case. And because the zoning board does not leave a written record explaining the reasoning for its decisions, a case history cannot be built.

“Another concrete thing [the next ZBA head could do], would be to write down the decisions, but you might have to ramp up the staffing to do it,” says Pastore. “Or you could stay there later or add a third day or something.”

For close and critical watchers of the ZBA, the unrelenting flow of variances undercuts the rationalization of the city’s zoning process.

“The ZBA needs to be lead in a direction that conforms to the spirit and the letter of the new zoning code,” says Matt Ruben, president of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, when asked what he hopes to see from Mayor Kenney’s new appointee.*

“There’s one philosophy that sees a well-designed and well-implemented zoning code as an important guide for land use and development,” says Ruben. “There’s another philosophy that sees zoning as an inconvenience and an impingement on the ability to do whatever you want with your property. I don’t think the ZBA should be proponents of the latter view. They should see the zoning code as something they have an important role in defending the integrity of.”

Ruben had nothing to say on Moylan’s tenure in particular, but argues that in general the ZBA has been too unpredictable. Sometimes he’s seen the board be too free in granting variances, other times almost doctrinaire in their refusal to allow for development against the old and outdated zoning in areas that haven’t yet been remapped. But a board with a professional planning bent could consider cases in a more predictable and professional fashion.

What use is professional city planning, the argument runs, if the zoning code goes regularly unenforced because a developer can just seek a variance? If a firm knows they can just get easy approval at the ZBA, they are much less likely to allow their buildings to be guided by existing zoning.

The wishes of both development-side zoning lawyers, civic groups, and proponents of professional planning will all be constrained by the material facts about compensation and hours ZBA members have to deal with. Board members are compensated $100 per meeting, no matter the length, with an annual ceiling of $22,000.

While such meetings in suburban areas often take place on weekday evenings, the sheer volume of cases before the city’s ZBA makes such timing impossible. The meetings take place on Tuesdays at 9:30 AM and throughout the afternoon on Wednesday.

As a result, the new head of the ZBA, and any member of the board, must be someone with either an extremely flexible work schedule or a personal fortune that obviates the need for a regular income.

“It really comes at a major sacrifice to your family, to your free time and, if you are working, to your job,” says Carl S. Primavera, a veteran Philadelphia zoning lawyer. “This isn’t a job you can just call in to. It’s too time consuming, too much of a commitment to just do it without putting a lot yourself into it. A lot of good people may think twice [before accepting the appointment].”

ORIGINAL POST: http://planphilly.com/articles/2016/09/26/what-should-philly-expect-in-a-new-zoning-board-chair

Courting driver fury, group sues PPA to end median parking on Broad

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In South Philadelphia, the median of the Broad Street thoroughfare is usually full of parked cars. It’s a long-standing tradition in these densely packed rowhouse neighborhoods, one that provokes astonishment and bemusement in visitors.

But critics of the practice say it is dangerous. Crashes occur when pedestrians dart out from the column of parked vehicles or when a car attempts to jet into traffic from a direction other drivers aren’t expecting.

For the past year, a campaign lead by the urbanist PAC 5th Square sought to pressure the city into removing the vehicles, which technically are illegally parked. Neither the police nor the PPA punish those who flout the law, though, except during special events like the Democratic National Convention.

Now 5th Square is suing the Philadelphia Police Department and the PPA to compel them to enforce the law.

“We’ve tried to work with the city and the parking authority to enforce the existing law,” said Jake Liefer, co-founder of 5th Square, who filed the lawsuit in Philadelphia Common Pleas court today. “They have not done so, but we believe the enforcement of the law will be upheld by the court.”

Both the City of Philadelphia and the Parking Authority declined to immediately comment for this story.

Whether the lawsuit will survive preliminary motions to dismiss will depend in large part on whether Liefer and his PAC can show that they have standing to sue, meaning a significant enough connection to the harms caused by lax parking enforcement on Broad.

In the filing, 5th Square and Liefer argue that they’ve spent a significant amount of volunteer time and resources trying to convince the authorities to enforce the law. They claim they have suffered harm by losing those resources and, as a result, they have sufficient standing to file the petition.

“We can demonstrate the amount of energy and resources we’ve spent,” said Liefer. “We’ve also received some pushback from a handful of individuals and the amount of that pushback was significant. It included death threats to myself and my family.”

PlanPhilly sent the petition to several lawyers. None of them believed it would be laughed out of court, although they also did not see it as a surefire strategy.

“At first glance, it appears they cite enough facts that gives them the grounds to move forward,” said Matt Monroe, a veteran zoning lawyer in the city. “It’s a good and colorable claim, not just something you’d crumple up and throw in the waste basket.”

Liefer and the 5th Square cite a decision in a voter ID case, Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which they say shows there is precedent for their argument that wasted organizational resources provide sufficient harm to show standing and allow the lawsuit to proceed to a hearing in front of a judge.

Monroe said that case lends credence to their petition, and shows they’ve done their homework. But he noted that in zoning matters—where the issue of standing is frequently raised—it’s been found that organizations don’t often have standing in such cases.

“By citing the voter ID case, it shows they have a leg to stand on,” said Monroe. “This is not a wild theory or claim, but how it will play out remains to be seen.”

Last year, PlanPhilly estimated that around 200 cars can park in the Broad Street median between Washington Avenue and Oregon Avenue at any given time. Making the practice illegal will not materially affect the traffic-choked parking situation in South Philadelphia, Liefer said, but it will reduce crashes and make the neighborhood’s backbone a safer place for pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists. He says that crashes are more common south of Washington Avenue on Broad Street, where the median parking exists, than north of it (where the practice is not tolerated).

“This isn’t a publicity stunt,” said Liefer. “We’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to ensuring that residents can travel safely in Philadelphia.”

ORIGINAL POST: http://planphilly.com/articles/2017/07/20/courting-driver-fury-group-sues-ppa-to-end-median-parking-on-broad