Jim Kenney calls for cars to clear City Hall sidewalk

Charles Mostoller

City Councilman Jim Kenney parks his car on the curb by the Masonic Temple across from City Hall.

“And that’s a privilege for me to have that space,” he said, “but I can still walk the 30 feet to (City Hall’s) front door. I don’t have to be right next to the front door.”

Kenney unveiled plans at Thursday’s City Council meeting, the last of the year, to clear the cars parked on the apron of the historic building.

In 1981, the council passed a law that allowed public officials and workers to park their cars on the Northeast side of the building. In 1992, then-Mayor Ed Rendell cleared the cars with an executive order.

Former Mayor John Street maintained the order, but “Now we have this car creep coming back over the last year where it’s becoming a parking lot again,” Kenney said.

So Kenney plans to repeal the original law passed in 1981, and clear the traffic. Hearings on the matter will be held in the new year.

“There’s no reason in the world why those cars should be parked on that sidewalk when there’s curb parking available,” he said.

Kenney said Mayor Michael Nutter, and then the Mayor’s staff started infiltrating the space, and then other public officials and workers followed.

“It’s just growing like weeds,” he said. “There’s lot of places for them to park their car that’s a short walk to City Hall … and it’s just this arrogance that allows people to think they’re more important.”

Mark McDonald, spokesman for Nutter, said City Hall is both the seat of government and a large office complex, and “parking in the Northeast corner is provided on a case-by-case basis.”

“You often have visiting guests, people going up to City Council. … there are deliveries being made, equipment, furniture, there’s ongoing building repair. … and there are also instances where people with a disability are accommodated,” he said. “There’s really very limited space available and these requests are handled by the mayor’s office on a daily basis.”

Kenney said the recently opened Dilworth Park influenced his decision.

“It’s a beautiful space,” Kenney said, “and I don’t need to be looking down at a row of cars.”

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