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Tax breaks as property values surge?; Tourism makes a return; SEPTA starts cleanup blitz | Sunday roundup

First Friday celebrates 30 years 🖼️

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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

RECAP: Looking back on the week that was

•  Philly property values and rents are up

With the first property reassessment since before the pandemic, Philadelphia found values up 21% overall and 31% among residential properties. To counteract the forthcoming eye-popping property tax bills, Mayor Kenney is proposing several changes, including a reduction in the oft-debated wage tax. Rent is also up in Philly, but the 6% jump since 2020 is half that in the surrounding suburbs. [phila.gov/WHYY/Billy Penn]

• Abortion rights battle surges to forefront

Pennsylvania is not a “trigger ban” state, and could see an influx of travelers seeking abortion care if the leaked Supreme Court decision holds to overturn Roe v. Wade. But a new Pa. Legislature and governor post-November election could act quickly to restrict access. Rallies filled Philadelphia last week, including one with elected officials at all levels. A movement to enshrine reproductive rights in federal law could depend on Sen. Bob Casey of Pa. — a Democrat who has long been anti-abortion. [WHYY/WESA/Billy Penn/BP]

• Tourism starts to bounce back

Just over 36 million people visited the Greater Philadelphia region last year, a 21% year-over-year jump but a far cry from the record 46 million recorded in 2019. The boost is evident in Center City, where 4 in 5 storefronts are occupied and pedestrian traffic is at 86% of pre-COVID levels. Industry experts say a fuller downtown recovery depends on workers returning to the office.  [Tribune/Visit Philly/KYW/WHYY]

• First Friday celebrates 30 years in Old City

In the early 1990s, artists were starting to swarm Old City, turning empty warehouses into vibrant studios and galleries. A documentary short explores how the neighborhood launched First Friday to let people explore multiple show openings and performances in one evening, and the trend took off. It was a transformative experience for one young man from Northeast Philly, whose 1994 essay about it was published in The Inquirer magazine. [Old City Dist/Billy Penn]

Corinthian Gardens next to Eastern State Penitentiary

Corinthian Gardens next to Eastern State Penitentiary

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

VISION: Looking forward to the week ahead

• Procrastinator’s Guide to the primary

Election Day is May 17, just over a week away. If you’re hoping to fill out your mail ballot this weekend or just looking to bone up on the candidates, our spring Procrastinator’s Guide — your cheat sheet to the primary election in Philadelphia — will be posted early Sunday afternoon at this link. The League of Women Voters has video interviews with several candidates. [Billy Penn/LWV]

• Parking enforcement begins for street sweeping

Enforcement of no parking zones for street sweeping begins Monday in the 14 Philly neighborhoods with the pilot. There’s a SweepPHL tool with a map that updates via GPS trackers, so you can check when the mechanical brooms have gone through. Two other tech solutions for reducing litter — the Glitter app and use of machine learning via city cameras — were essentially dropped by the Kenney admin. [Billy Penn/@billy_penn/phila.gov/Citizen]

• SEPTA deploys new safety personnel, starts cleanup ‘blitz’

Efforts to bring riders back to SEPTA and keep them safe ramp up this week. Dozens of contracted “outreach services” staff are now riding the system, meant not to replace police but to provide additional eyes and ears. The authority is also relaunching its summer cleaning “blitz,” which entails closing certain stations for hours at a time for a hosedown and repairs. [6ABC/SEPTA]

• Student artists get showcase at PAFA

Called the longest-standing student exhibition of its kind, the annual art show for students at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts opens this week. It happens in the school’s Center City museum, and is highly curated. Two years ago, students boycotted the show over PAFA’s Black Lives Matter stance, prompting a massive leadership change at the institution. [PAFA/Billy Penn/WHYY]

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