Gladstein approved as Zoning Czar

Dec. 10

By Thomas J. Walsh
For PlanPhilly

Eva Gladstein, a veteran Philadelphia fair housing executive and proponent of better planning and zoning initiatives, was unanimously approved as the new executive director of the city’s Zoning Code Commission at Wednesday morning’s monthly meeting.

Hiring committee chair Al Taubenberger said Gladstein was chosen over eight other candidates who were interviewed, from a pool of about 25 qualified applicants. Gladstein was selected by Mayor Michael Nutter after he interviewed four finalists for the position.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Gladstein, addressing the commissioners. “I know this commission has been working very hard and trying to get things done. I’ve spent a lot of years working in Philly trying to improve this city … and yet I don’t think I’ve ever had an opportunity as great as this one.”

Gladstein, a native of Queens, was the co-founder of the Tenants’ Action Group (TAG), director of the Pennsylvania Low-Income Housing Coalition (now the Housing Alliance) and worked with Community Builders, a nonprofit developer, manager, and service provider for affordable and mixed-income housing.

Gladstein was executive director of the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone from 1998 through mid-2005, when she was tapped by Mayor John Street as director of Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). Gladstein has worked within the Commerce Department since earlier this year, when the city shut down NTI because of accounting and management problems that totaled more than $30 million. The ZCC hiring committee was initially concerned about this chapter of Gladstein’s career, but members said their questions were answered satisfactorily.

“I think it’s a great honor and I’m really looking forward to it,” Gladstein said of her new role. “I’m charged up and ready to go.” She’ll start the ZCC job officially on January 5, working from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission offices.

Meetings
Also Wednesday morning, Owen Franklin of Portfolio Associates, a subcontractor involved in the zoning code overhaul, said informational meetings about the multi-year ZCC process would be extended through the end of February, rather than mid-January. The meetings are to be held at each of the city’s councilmanic districts.

“We thought that there might be a bit of civic meeting fatigue setting in,” said Alan Greenberger, ZCC chairman and executive director of the Planning Commission, referring to Mayor Nutter’s series of emotional community meetings about cutbacks in city services and layoffs related to the budget shortfall.

Meetings mentioned Wednesday are scheduled for the 9th district (Jan. 27) and the 1st district (Feb. 5).

Franklin also said the online survey, at www.zoningmatters.org, had yielded about 600 responses so far, but that it was too early to report on results.

Code user interviews
Tracy Tackett of subcontractor CH Planning reported that code user interviews will likely conclude by mid-January.

“The responses are fantastic,” Tackett said. “People are really opening up – they are really giving us some great opinions. … We are getting some sense of what’s going on in the real world.”

She said interviews are being grouped by profession when possible, such as lawyers, developers, architects and planners. A session next week will involve code users among nonprofit leaders. (If you’d like to attend these meetings as a regular code user, contact the Planning Commission or members of the ZCC.)

Approval of the 2009 meeting schedule was also approved. The next ZCC meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14.

Contact the reporter at tom@thomasjwalsh.info

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