DAG responds to Zoning Reform issue

Dear DAG Member,

One of the key elements of DAG’s Reform Agenda of 2005 was zoning reform. DAG and many of its members have been active participants in the work of the Zoning Code Commission. On May 11, 2011 the Commission voted to forward the proposed new code to City Council, but several Council members or their representatives raised objections that threaten the code reform project. This meeting was well covered on PlanPhilly and in the Inquirer.

Councilmen Bill Green and Brian O’Neill threatened to table any discussion of the proposed Code and to delay its implementation in each district until it has been remapped. Remapping is a five- to ten-year process that will leave us in the chaotic situation of having two different zoning codes applied simultaneously throughout the city. Both Green and O’Neill abstained from the vote that sent the draft Code to City Council.

The DAG Steering Committee supports Zoning Code reform, applauds the progress that we have made already, and believes that we must counter this eleventh-hour obstructionism by those who have participated amply in the last four years of discussion. We urge our members to write immediately to Councilmen Green (bill.green@phila.gov) and O’Neill (brian.o’neill@phila.gov).

Bill Green is running for an at-large position, so e-mails from any Philadelphia voter will have an impact. Brian O’Neill was appointed to the Commission by Council President Verna, so he, too, should be accountable to all Philadelphians.

Write to your own City Councilman, too. (Find out what district you’re in at http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/)

The Building Industry Association has composed easy-to-use sample letters, which we have slightly edited and attached below for your information.


David Brownlee
Vice Chair, DAG


Sample Messages (send to bill.green@phila.gov and brian.o’neill@phila.gov):

Dear Councilman ________, Philadelphia needs an objective, fair zoning code in place if we are to attract investment. Please work with us to welcome investment to Philadelphia by leading the effort to pass the zoning code. Do not cause delays or table discussion in Council. We have invested over four years already in drafting the Code. Let’s fix the flaws and pass it.

Dear Councilman Green, As a reformer running for reelection, please know that voters expect you to achieve zoning reform in 2011 and not to delay it. I ask you to use the process in City Council to amend the Code and resolve any remaining flaws in 2011. Then let’s get it passed. We are looking for you to be a leader!

Dear Councilman Green, We need your leadership. Zoning reform now has its first real chance for success in 60 years. I read in the paper that you are trying to stop reform. My vote depends on your being willing to take the risks to reform the City starting with its Zoning Code. I need to know that you will not delay change but embrace it! That is why I am voting for you!

Dear Councilman _____, I have been following the work of the Zoning Code Commission for four years. They have done an incredible job of rewriting the Code page by page to ensure it better serves Philadelphia. Now it is going to Council for a vote and I need you to lead the charge to get it passed. Make the changes you need to, but we need zoning reform in 2011, and we need you to lead this effort.

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