Is leaf collection a service for the wealthy?

As we noted this morning, Council is pushing back against ... well, against itself, on its decision to cut mechanical leaf collection and save $400,000.

Isaiah Thompson at City Paper observes that before it was cut, this was a service that was enjoyed by just 10 percent of the city. Which 10 percent, you ask? Isaiah got a map from the streets department. It looks like the neighborhoods that received mechanical leaf collection included Chestnut Hill, West Mt. Airy and the gentrified triangle of West Philly, as well as Somerton and Bustleton in the northeast and a tiny pocket of South Philly.

Says Isaiah:

Asked why these areas - and not others - received service, Streets spokeswoman June Cantor pointed out that they have more leaves. And we don't doubt she's right: but they're also wealthier – a lot wealthier, in some cases – than the rest of the city.

Having more leaves is a pretty good reason to get priority treatment in leaf collection. But the question, given this limited scope, becomes whether this is a service worth preserving. Jeff Shields quotes Councilman Rizzo saying uncollected leaves are "a hazard, choking sewers and causing flooding, or forming dry piles that a hot car muffler can ignite ... We're either going to have to pay now or pay later."

Shields also reports that, yesterday in Council, Bill Green proposed the legislative body find the $400,000 to cut elsewhere, to offset the cost of restoring the service (Council passed a resolution urging Nutter to restore the service). He received no substantive response.

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