PlanPhilly

Judge tosses challenge to tradition of parking in the middle of South Broad

On Wednesday, Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel Anders dismissed the lawsuit from the urbanist advocacy group 5th Square, which sought to force Philadelphia police and the parking authority to enforce the technically illegal practice of parking in the South Broad Street median.

As PlanPhilly first reported in July, the lawsuit came after a year-long effort by 5th Square to convince the City and the PPA to ticket illegally parked cars on the median. Around 200 parked automobiles can fit between the four lanes of swiftly moving traffic on the major arterial street.

Lawyers for the city challenged 5th Square’s standing to sue, arguing that the group and its co-founder, Jake Liefer couldn’t show the kind of substantial, direct, and immediate harm required to file a lawsuit. The city solicitors also argued that the suit itself lacked merit because it asked the court to supplant the city’s discretionary decisions on how to best enforce parking regulations with its own.

Judge Anders agreed with the city. While the order tossing the suit did not elaborate on the reasoning, it did dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, preventing the group from re-filing an amended version of the suit.  

5th Square can still appeal the decision, and Liefer said they are considering it.

In an email, Liefer said that they “stand by the merits of the case and will continue to advocate for the end of unsafe and illegal parking."

Now the courts have issued a ruling on the subject. It seems that cars will be sitting in the middle of the busy thoroughfare for the foreseeable future.

The court opinion did not elaborate on Judge Anders’ reasoning. Terse decisions of this nature are common from the Common Pleas bench, where judges face a staggering number of cases.

5th Square’s campaign against median parking dates back to last year. But it really heated up this summer and the backlash to their efforts has been fierce.

Although only about 200 cars can park in the median at a time, many residents of South Philly’s dense rowhouse neighborhoods believe that every space counts.

And as long as the city decides that enforcement isn’t a priority, it would seem that this illegal tradition is safe.

About the author

Jake Blumgart, Reporter

Jake Blumgart is PlanPhilly's planning, development, and housing reporter. He covers the city's built environment and the people who live and work there. He lives in Cedar Park and has also contrubuted to Slate, CityLab, Next City, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and the American Planning Association's magazine. Follow him on Twitter @jblumgart and email him at jblumgart@whyy.org.

 


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