You’ve lived in the city for a long time. You’ve driven its streets. You know Philly, or at least you think you do.
But do you know …
• How many miles of streets crisscross Philadelphia? (A) 2,500 (B) 25,000 (C) 60,000.
• How many traffic signals there are in the city? (A) 100,000 (B) 40,000 (C) 30,000.
• How many major bridges? (A) 25 (B) 110 (C) 160.
• About what percentage of Philadelphia’s trash is recycled? (A) 7 percent (B) 20 percent (C) 60 percent.
Northeast resident David Perri knows this stuff. He should. He’s the acting Streets Department commissioner, and during a visit to the Greater Bustleton Civic League’s May 22 meeting, Perri shared some of the figures that he joked would help anyone score high on a Philadelphia trivia test.
Perri, an Archbishop Ryan grad, took over Streets recently when its longtime commissioner, Clarena Tolson, became Revenue commissioner. He’s now in charge of a department that (check your answers now) oversees 2,500 miles of city streets, 160 major bridges and the collection of trash, of which about 20 percent is recycled.
And, Perri said, there are about 100,000 traffic lights in Philadelphia, a fact that prompted one league member to joke that he gets caught at all of them every time he tries to go somewhere.
Perri gave league members a rundown of what Streets is doing and plans to do.
The department is a little behind in repaving projects, Perri said. A regulation that requires sidewalk ramp construction when streets are repaved has slowed the work and also put a drain on budgets.
During the next 15 years, Perri projected, the city will move away from the high-pressure sodium streetlights and use more LED lighting.
A goal, he said, is to increase the percentage of trash that is recycled to at least 25 percent. It costs the city $58 per ton to move trash to landfills, but the city saves that money and, instead, brings in $25 per ton for refuse that is recycled.
“Recycling helps keeps taxes down,” he said. “It’s throwing money away if [recyclables] end up in a landfill.”
In other business, members voted to support Aladim Tavars’ zoning variance application to build an addition to his home on the 9800 block of Walley Ave. A zoning variance is needed because the addition will cut into required side-yard setbacks.
Members declined to support Natalya Bulgakov’s variance application, which would legalize a side-yard deck on a single-family home on the 9900 block of Alicia St. Current zoning doesn’t allow decks in side yards.
The league’s president, Jack O’Hara, said the Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved variances for a dental-implant business on a residential block of 9900 block of Haldeman Avenue and a used-car business on the 9900 block of Bustleton Avenue. The civic organization overwhelmingly opposed both variances.
The league is using some of its savings to appeal the Haldeman Avenue decision to Common Pleas Court.
City Councilman Brian O’Neill (R-10 dist.) last month gave the league a $2,000 grant, but on May 22, suggested the group rethink how it approaches zoning questions.
ldquo;There has to be a change of strategy with zoning issues,” he said.
O’Neill said the group should try to get lawyers to represent members at zoning hearings either by volunteering or for small fees. Even when large numbers of neighbors show up to oppose a variance application, he said, they face an applicant who has come with an attorney.
The league’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26, at the American Heritage Federal Credit Union on Red Lion Road. ••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org