By now, pretty much everyone (except maybe David Auspitz) realizes how badly Philadelphia needs 1) a powerful Planning Commission and 2) a new, modernized Zoning Code that the planning commission can enforce. What not as many people realize is that Philadelphia is poised to make significant strides towards achieving both in 2007. It just needs a little kick in the ass from people like you.
In December, City Council's Law and Government Committee approved a package of bills that would create a new, 29-member Zoning Code Commission, charged with rewriting the city's drastically outdated and completely unmanageable zoning code. A related bill would overhaul the Planning Commission, giving it more time for land reviews, and would also require more expertise from its members.
The bills, which need to be approved by the full City Council, require City Charter changes and would go on the May 15 primary-election ballot for voter approval, after Council approval.
The bills and related resolutions were scheduled to come to a vote last month on December 14th during Council’s last session before the holiday recess. There were strong editorials in both the Inquirer and the Daily News advocating their quick passage. But, the sponsors ran into problems with Councilman Brian O’Neil (who appears to be opposing Zoning reform on behalf of several unions), and did not have the necessary votes (2/3 of council, 12 of 17), so the vote was postponed.
Now, Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco (co-sponsors of the bill) have a little more than a month to get the bills passed by the full council in order for them to make its way onto the ballot for the public to approve in the May primary.
You can help them out by visiting the Next Great City and sending city council a cute little note, imploring them to wise up and support both Zoning Bill No. 060699 and Resolution No. 060716.
And, really, you should. Because if you don’t hold their hand through it, they simply won’t do it.
Meanwhile, the Center City Residents Association will finally unveil their neighborhood master plan later tonight. While the CCRA has its share of NIMBYs, the CCRA’s Zoning and Planning Committees have their shit together.
So you can expect to see some actual legit urban planning in this plan, a great start to what hopefully will be the year Philadelphia finally officially embraces sound urban planning.
UPDATE: CCRA has posted a draft (PDF) of its plan on their website. It's like camping — i.e. 110 pages, 19MB.
Tell City Council to support Zoning Reform [Next Great City]
CCRA Center City Neighborhood Master Plan a harbinger of impending influx of sound urban planning — not just wishful thinking [CCRA (PDF)]
New Philadelphia Planning head is planning ahead [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Time to rewrite the city’s “Da Vinci Code” of development [Daily News]
Philadelphia’s Zoning Code: A roadblock to growth [Philadelphia Inquirer]
New York, where the dreamers are asleep [New York Times]