Archive | June, 2013

SEPTA to increase fares, eliminate gender stickers starting Monday, July 1

June 30, 2013

trolleyBeginning Monday, July 1, SEPTA’s fares are going up. The new price plan includes the first increase to the cash fare since 2001, from $2 to $2.25. The discounted single trip fare (token) will be $1.80. Transfers will remain $1.

As you may already know, SEPTA is working on the New Payment Technology (NPT) program, which will come into effect next year. NPT will eliminate tokens and introduce a SEPTA-branded card that will be available for purchase at all transit stations. In anticipation of the program SEPTA is also simplifying fares by eliminating extrafare zone charges on dozens of transit routes and consolidating zones on Regional Rail. In addition, gender stickers will be eliminated on all passes for transit and Regional Rail. The gender sticker system was highly criticized for its discrimination against transgender passengers.

The cash fare will go up to $2.50 in 2014 when the switch to NPT is complete. The next scheduled fare increase will be in July 2016.

For more information about the fare changes, including a breakdown of all fares and related modifications that will go into effect July 1, visit this special section on SEPTA’s website.

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Building eyesore on 49th and Chester up for sale as-is

June 28, 2013

Photo: Annamarya Scaccia/West Philly Local

Photo: Annamarya Scaccia/West Philly Local

After years of uneven and stalled construction, the eyesore of a site at 4809 Chester Avenue was recently put up for sale and it’s going for a whopping $549,000.

The three-story residential project has a long and sordid history. The nearly 5,000 sq-ft lot, which was bought empty by Antonie Gardiner’s company Bizness as Usual Inc. in 2004, received 15 code violations since 2007—all of which were resolved, according to a March 13 Philadelphia Inquirer article. The piece also reports that, from 2003 forward, Gardiner owed $5,324 in delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest, and has set up a payment arrangement on the property with a city collection agency. And that’s not all—the Southwest Cedar Park site is allegedly one of Gardiner’s 58 delinquent properties, states The Inquirer.

The unfinished Chester Avenue project is being sold as-is by the owner, according to an online listing by Fred R. Levine Real Estate, the agent on the property. The post catalogs the building as a three-story single-family detached home with six bedrooms, four full and two partial bathrooms, a garage, parking space, basement, electric heat, and a brick exterior.

When West Philly Local visited the site on Wednesday, the unsecured property was still overwhelmed by a muddy and uneven front yard, cut through by equipment tracks and peppered with murky puddles, debris, and litter. The entryway is also boarded up by two sections of large wood planks, with a small “SALE” plaque by Fred R. Levine Real Estate tacked to the right side.

-Annamarya Scaccia

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Cabdriver shot by passenger at Farragut and Walnut

June 28, 2013

crimeA taxi driver was shot in the hand by a passenger Thursday night on the 200 block of S. Farragut Street, according to police. The incident happened shortly before 10 p.m. when the passenger pulled out a gun and announced a robbery after the cab stopped. The passenger was picked up at 48th and Baltimore and asked to be taken to 47th and Locust Streets, but when the taxi arrived at 47th and Locust he told the driver to turn down 200 S. Farragut St. and to let him out there. When the driver pulled over the passenger pulled out a black handgun, reached through the partition and pointed the handgun at the driver’s head, demanding money, police said. The driver, who worked for Freedom Taxi, grabbed the gun and a struggle ensued, during which the driver was shot and wounded in his right thumb and left index finger with a single shot.

After shooting the driver the passenger took his money, cell phone and car keys and fled south on Farragut Street. He ran into an alleyway and disappeared. The victim’s cell phone was later found on Farragut Street.

The cab driver was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for treatment and is expected to be okay.

Police are asking for public’s assistance in locating the suspect. He’s described as a black male, dark complexion, 28-32 years old, 5’9-6’00” tall, thin build, thick beard with mustache. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and carrying a black backpack.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to contact the Southwest Detectives Division (Lieutenant Walker or Joseph Murray) at 215-476-1131.

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Sailing movie screening to raise funds for local AIDS group

June 26, 2013


Have you ever dreamed of fixing an old boat and sailing it around the world? A group of young people led by hacker/anarchist/sailor Moxie Marlinspike did just that: they traveled to Florida, bought a junked boat, fixed it up and sailed it around the Bahamas, capturing their experience on a camcorder bought and later returned to Best Buy. This ultimate adventure movie, titled Hold Fast, is screening Thursday night (June 27), beginning at 7 p.m., at Cedar Works (4919 Pentridge St.) and everyone is invited, including families with children.

The film screening is a fundraiser for West Philly-based group AIDS Policy Project comprised of longtime activists pushing for a cure for AIDS for everyone who needs one. At Thursday’s event, the group members will be selling delicious snacks, raffling off boat trips and other nautical stuff, and “telling stories of maritime calamity and fun,” according to Executive Director and West Philly neighbor Kate Krauss. If you like, you can bring your maritime disaster story to share. If you bring your kids they can play on a big, fenced-in patio and still watch the movie through the glass wall.

Tickets are $10 to $20 on a sliding scale and can be purchased online or at the door. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the AIDS Policy Project website.

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Check out Farm 51’s weekly produce stand, open every Thursday at 51st and Chester

June 26, 2013

Photo: Neal Santos /

Photo: Neal Santos /

If you’re looking to score locally-grown veggies to round out your grocery shopping this week, stop by Farm 51 this Thursday to purchase organic food goods—and support West Philly farming—from its weekly produce stand.

Opened in May, Farm 51’s farmstand operates every Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the educational urban farm and market’s site at 51st and Chester Streets. Currently, the farm will have its fresh, organically grown kale, collards, lettuces, herbs, carrots, radishes, flowers, beets, and eggs from its chickens available for sale, and will introduce honey from its bees, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, melons and more, later in the season. The produce stand, in operation since the farm officially opened four years ago, will close in late October.

Farmstand costs, which are marked by bag and bunch, range from $1 to $6 in order to remain affordable for the farm’s immediate residents, said Philadelphia City Paper Staff Photographer/Associate Web Editor Neal Santos, who runs Farm 51 along with founder Andrew Olson. The farm only accepts cash at its stand but is working on equipping itself to also accept SNAP, Santos told West Philly Local.

Proceeds from the farmstand will go towards paying Farm 51’s junior gardeners, who staff the single farmstand, as well as supporting its garden and “all of its critters,” said Santos. In addition to the West Philly location, Farm 51 will also host a stand at Philadelphia’s Open Air Market at 23rd and Arch Streets, where it’ll sell its organic cut flowers and Santos’s photography.

“The plan is to consistently provide fresh, affordable and locally grown organic produce to our customers,” Santos told West Philly Local. Farm 51 plans on holding open farm days for guided tours in the near future. “We also hope to create more of a meeting and community space in the parts of the garden that are not growing space for pop up events.”

Annamarya Scaccia

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Tip jar thefts hit local cafés

June 25, 2013

Tip_jar-735490062We have received reports of a brazen theft pattern developing over the last couple of weeks at some local cafes. Tip jars were stolen from the counters of at least two local establishments last week.

Tip jars were stolen from the Green Line Café on Locust Street twice in the last two weeks, according to owner Douglas Witmer. It looks like both times it was done by the same person, he adds.

A tip jar was also stolen from Milk & Honey Market at 45th and Baltimore Avenue, according to owner Annie Baum-Stein, who added that the theft happened at the end of the day, around 7 p.m.

It’s not known how much money was stolen.

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