clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Philly passes moratorium on electric vehicle parking spots bill

Electric car owners can no longer be issued permits for car-charging stations

Philly’s City Council voted to put a moratorium on its Electric Vehicle Parking bill.
Courtesy of Miles Willis/Stringer/Getty Images

Philly’s city council voted to approve a moratorium on legislation that allows electric car owners to install a curbside charging station in front of their homes.

The council vote went 11 in favor and six against the moratorium, which was co-sponsored by councilmen David Oh and Mark Squilla.

The moratorium prevents the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) from issuing any new permits to electric car owners, “pending Council’s review of the impact of these spaces on overall parking availability and enactment of further legislation.”

In addition, under the moratorium electric car owners can only park in their permitted spots from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Non-electric cars can then park in those spots for up two hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The full amendment reads:

Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection (3), effective with the adoption of the Ordinance adding this subsection (3)(d), the Parking Authority shall designate no additional electric vehicle parking spaces, pending Council’s review of the impact of these spaces on overall parking availability and enactment of further legislation. During such moratorium on new spaces, all existing Electric Vehicle Parking spaces shall be designated as exclusively reserved for Electric Vehicles only from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., and non-electric vehicles shall be authorized to park in electric vehicle parking spaces for no more than two (2) hours between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The passage of the moratorium comes 10 years after the ordinance Electric Vehicle Parking was first passed. As the Inquirer’s Inga Saffron rehashed in her recent column, the Electric Vehicle Parking bill was issued in 2007, with the backing of then-Mayor Michael Nutter and then council member and now-Mayor Jim Kenney. The bill allowed owners of electric vehicles to apply for permits to install car-charging stations in front of their homes.

No one applied for the permits for the first five years, and the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has issued a little more than 60 permits since 2012.

At the public comment period of the meeting, opponents of the Electric Vehicle Parking ordinance argued that it encouraged people to buy electric vehicles just so they could have a parking spot in front of their homes. A representative from the Society Hill Civic Association said, “It’s a very undemocratic allocation and it’s not an equal opportunity type of situation.”

They also argued that the car-charging stations took away opportunities from people who needed handicap-accessible parking permits.

Meanwhile, those opposed to the moratorium and owners of fuel-efficient electric cars argued that the passage would send a bad message to the Electric Vehicle industry and set back the city’s progress on creating green infrastructure.

“I understand as a resident of South Philadelphia [...] the concerns of parking,” said Adam Garber, deputy director of PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “But the reality is the inputting of the moratorium will not solve this problem. The existing parking spots will still be there on the streets, and in the meantime there will be no way to encourage new parking spots.”

“The issue is about air pollution,” Garber added, citing a new report that found that Philadelphians experienced 97 unhealthy air pollution days in 2015. “As a city we need to be moving forward full steam by encouraging electric vehicles.”

Ahead of the council vote, Councilman Oh said, “The ultimate reason I introduced bill is that the city’s current electric vehicle process is problematic, unsustainable, and has hindered development of other electric vehicle-charging infrastructure in the city.”

Oh said that the moratorium, while not permanent, will allow his office and the city to come up with a viable plan that would create more EV-based infrastructure, such as public car-charging stations in parking garages and major transportation nodes throughout the city.

Oh and Squilla said they have met with electric vehicle industry leaders to help guide their future replacement plan.

Still, other council members who voted against the moratorium said they could not support a “repeal then replace” legislation.