Council holds hearing on returning PPA to city control

February 28, 2017

City Council’s Committee on Law and Government held a hearing on Monday to examine a bill introduced by Councilman David Oh that seeks to return control of the Philadelphia Parking Authority to the city of Philadelphia.

“I am not trying to dismantle the PPA,” Oh said speaking on behalf of his bill.

Representatives from the PPA did not testify during the hearing, citing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision City of Philadelphia v. Schweiker. That court decision relegated control of the PPA’s on-street ticketing efforts to the state under the control of the Governor who also appoints board members.

The PPA was established in 1950 and remained a responsibility of the City of Philadelphia until 2001.

In 2001, then-House Speaker John Perzel got Act 22 of 2001 passed to put the PPA under state, and at the time Republican, control. Act 22 of 2001 is the legislation that authorized the Governor to appoint PPA board members rather than the Mayor. The six individuals appointed to the board by the Governor “no longer responded to the Mayor of Philadelphia,” said a handout distributed by Oh at the hearing.

Also within that legislation is a requirement that PPA provide up to $45 million of its revenue to the School District of Philadelphia.

Oh called state control a takeover and said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling is “misplaced.” A 2016 Philadelphia Daily News op-ed called Act 22 of 2001 a “steal move” and a heist.

Turning the PPA over to state jurisdiction, which occurred the same year the School Reform Commission was created by the state, violated a part of the Philadelphia home rule charter which “prohibits the General Assembly from enacting laws or special legislation regulating the affairs of counties, cities...,” Oh said.

Most notably, the PPA collects funds within Philadelphia from ticketing and other on-street violations that city officials are not at all aware of, Oh’s PowerPoint stated. Oh also noted that despite the fact that the PPA revenue has doubled, the organization has never come close to providing the maximum of $45 million to the School District of Philadelphia.

Oh’s handout stated, “Bill 160844 lawfully returns City’s on-street parking function and all related revenue to the City of Philadelphia as required by the Pennsylvania Constitution in Article III, Section 32.”

Steve Huntington, chair of the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition said of his 24-member board, 16 replied in favor of the legislation except one member who could not reach the board in time.

Councilman David Green, Councilman-at-Large Bill Greenlee, Councilwoman Helen Gym and Councilwoman Cindy Bass also attended the hearing.

The bill remained in committee Monday.