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Date January, 2007
Client Next Great City Coalition
Length 32 pages

coalition report

Next Great City Philadelphia

Next Great City Philadelphia sets forth an urban environmental agenda for Philadelphia that was arrived at collaboratively by neighborhood, environmental, labor, health and citywide professional and service organizations to make every Philadelphia neighborhood a better place to live and work. Over 100 organizations endorsed the report and together now form the Next Great City Coalition.

Next Great City was a fun and challenging project for May 8. Environmental organizations felt irrelevant in Philadelphia politics and wanted to define an agenda that would appeal to rowhouse and business Philadelphia. An extensive telephone survey showed that Philadelphians’ primary environmental concerns concern their neighborhood environment. Blight and abandonment, poor park conditions, unlit areas to wait for transit, and sewers that flood basements during a storm, were the type of issues that concerned Philadelphians.

Over the course of six months, we reached consensus on ten recommendations that could be accomplished within a single Mayor’s term that would have a significant impact on the environment. The ten recommendations are:

1. Improve Transit Stops
2. Stop Sewer Backups and Flooding
3. Create Public Riverfronts
4. Replant Neighborhood Trees
5. Adopt Modern Zoning
6. Reduce Asthma Caused by Soot from City Trucks
7. Clean and Green Vacant Lots
8. Maintain Healthy Parks
9. Expand and Improve Recycling Citywide
10. Use Clean Energy and Construct Energy-Efficient Buildings

successes to date
Waterfront Zoning Requires Setback for Trail/Greenway
On June 18, 2009, City Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 090170, which creates the Central Delaware Riverfront Overlay District. The new overlay district regulations establish use, setback, and waterfront access provisions for a seven-mile stretch of waterfront. The new legislation will be in effect until a detailed master plan of the Central Delaware can be prepared.

Reducing Asthma Caused by Diesel Soot
On October 22, 2008, city officials announced a project to retrofit 88 city-owned fire department vehicles to reduce soot by 20 percent, smog-forming pollution by 40 percent, and carbon monoxide by 50 percent. Funds for the retrofits were provided by EPA Region 3. The City is providing matching funds through a settlement with the Sunoco Corporation.

Parks Management Reform
In November 2008, citizens passed a referendum that will create a unified parks and recreation system in the city for the first time and require open and transparent appointments of qualified commissioners.

Stormwater Fee Allocation
In November of 2008, the Philadelphia Water Department began the process of changing the way stormwater fees are collected from commercial customers. As recommended by Next Great City, instead of making the fee based on how much water a property uses, it will instead be charged by how much impervious surface it has and therefore, how much stormwater it creates.

Single Stream Recycling Goes Citywide
On July 7, 2008, The City of Philadelphia followed the Next Great City recommendation and made the final expansion of the Single Stream recycling program to bring the entire city into the program that allows residents to recycle paper, plastic, metals, glass and cardboard all in one bin.

Clean and Greening of Vacant Lots
For fiscal year 2008, a budget line of $3.5 million was allocated for vacant land stabilization and maintenance strategies. This budget line ensures that the internationally-recognized Philly Green program will continue to engage communities in removing these eyesores and potential sources of crime from neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.

Renewable Energy Use
On April 15, 2007, Mayor John F. Street signed a contract with PECO Wind to purchase 8,500 megawatt hours, or about 4% of the city's energy use, from wind power. While it's not the full 5% purchase the Next Great City report recommended, the City plans to purchase more, reaching 5% by 2010.

Zoning Reform
On May 15, 2007 voters overwhelmingly voted for creation of the Zoning Code Commission with a more than 70% approval rate. The Commission has been working on a rewrite of the Code due out in 2010.