A Few Tips For The Falls From Councilman Greenlee

Making money off the Pope, living with new neighbors, and why the councilman’s jumpshot isn’t what it used to be.

If you think you’ll make a pretty penny from the Pope’s visit this September, you might wind up paying Paul after all, if City Council has anything to say about it. It’s no secret that many East Fallsers are hoping to rent out their houses to the faithful flocking to Philadelphia.

Bill Greenlee, a lifelong Fairmount resident, gets it. He’s seen the AirBNB buzz build in the last few months in his neighborhood, only a few blocks from ground zero on the Parkway.  He’s even got a plan: Irish weekend in Wildwood!  “The rent for your house pays your stay at the beach, it’s a win-win!”  he declared from his Center City office last week.

He’s full of plans, and was in on the AirBnB bill from the start. When the company saw Pope Francis was headed our way, we quickly became a “Destination of Interest” on their radar. They asked City Council to work out taxing & legislation for residents renting out their homes thru “traveler hosting” services such as theirs.

Greenlee knows people hate new taxes, but he sees it as a net positive in the big picture (the Pope’s visit is quite a windfall for homeowners). You’d expect an at-large councilman to focus on the big picture — his bailiwick is Philadelphia, not individual neighborhoods, and his bills are the kind of large-bore initiatives that affect everyone — domestic violence, earned sick leave, anti-discrimination, etc.

Still, he’s a very strong proponent of neighborhoods so we ask for his take on the biggest issue facing East Falls these days: gentrification.  His experiences with new neighbors and parking certainly resonate for us.

On “Fallsers versus Squatters” — it all boils down to finding a balance. Locals need to respect that their new neighbors have a right to live in the neighborhood of their choice. And people moving here need to respect the residents who created such a desirable neighborhood in the first place.

But OMG parking! How does a neighborhood cope with the huge influx of cars and traffic that comes with gentrification? Greenlee’s answer was an echo of his first: neighbors just need to be considerate. You just deal.

(Or if you really can’t take it, you move and sell your house for much more money than you paid for it, so:  win-win!)

White (Council)Men Can’t Jump
In totally unrelated news, Greenlee’s a big basketball fan — he played it for years but finally gave it up due to a chronic case of  “basketball knees” from way too many tomahawk dunks in his youth orrrrrr maybe he’s just getting old and creaky like his 16-year old cockapoo Rex. You might catch them walking around the Lincoln statue in Fairmount when the weather’s nice.

FUN FACT:  When Greenlee and 38th Ward Leader Mark Green shoot hoops, the Councilman’s often served pretty bad: “By the time I get the range on my jumpshot, I usually gotta take a break, but Mark’s really good. He played in college, so I’ve got my hands full out there!”

Been awhile since they’ve played — both have been crazy-busy with the upcoming election May 19th (Greenlee is on the ticket!).  Greenlee always look forward to touching base with Mark, on or off the court. “Mark’s our point man. Whenever there’s a problem and we need to know what it looks like, he’s the guy with the info.”

And for Greenlee, this personal-level stuff is the best part of his job:  “Helping individuals solve their problems. You rarely get the chance as an at-large councilman, but when someone says ‘Your office really helped me,’ — there’s no feeling like it in the world.”

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