In May 2007, 80% of Philadelphia voters supported zoning reform. That vote kicked off four years of hard work, culminating in the Zoning Code Commission’s (ZCC) recommendations for a new zoning code. Now that City Council is holding hearings on the ZCC proposals, there’s reason to hope that a new zoning code could be adopted this year. But passage of the new code is not a foregone conclusion, so don’t let zoning fatigue set in now. The clock is ticking.
The good news? There’s real movement on the issue. As PlanPhilly previously reported, City Council resumed debate on the Zoning Code Commission’s proposals last week with a marathon pubic hearing. They’ll take up the debate again with a hearing on Tuesday, September 27, after which they could vote on a proposed code resolution and send their recommendations back to the ZCC. The ZCC and reform advocates believe that there’s enough time to pass the new code prior to the expiration of the current Council session in December.
Tonight PennPraxis, PlanPhilly, and the Daily News are hosting a public forum about zoning reform at the Inquirer and Daily News Building. This is an unusual opportunity for Philadelphians to get up to speed on the proposed new code, and to hear from key decision-makers while City Council is actively considering the ZCC’s proposals. Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, will tee-up the conversation. Then there will be a panel discussion with council members Darrell Clarke, Frank DiCicco, and Bill Green along with local zoning experts, moderated by Harris Steinberg, executive director of PennPraxis. [Register for the event here.]
Despite its wonky reputation, zoning is really about how neighborhoods can change, the way development processes function, and what role the public has in decisions being made about development in their city. Philadelphians supported zoning reform because we care about those concerns and we want our city to work better. That means we should also care about the outcome of the ZCC’s process and whether or not Council chooses to act. The time is now.
Faithful readers of PlanPhilly will know that a significant amount of bandwidth has been devoted to covering and breaking down the process of zoning reform. If you need a refresher prior to Council’s next hearing or the forum tonight, check out the hard work of Jared Brey and Nick Gilewicz over on PlanPhilly’s special section Cutting Through the Zoning Code.
- The Zoning Lexicon is a great tool for understanding zoning lingo.
- Jared has started checking in on the goals for zoning reform, point-by-point, to see how the new code measures up: (1) Protecting Access to Light and Air; (2) Promoting Sustainable Development; (3) Protecting Philadelphia’s Natural and Historic Resources; (4) Making Procedures Fair and Consistent