March 14: Black churches become luxury housing | Trinities fit the tiny-house trend | ZBA chair is Doc’s doc

“Luxury residential development has become a popular use for the structures that once nurtured souls of Black folk in a historic Black community,” write Sheila Simmons and Damon Williams in the Philadelphia Tribune. Black churches in Graduate Hospital, including First African Baptist, which was placed on the local historic register last year, are shutting down to make way for new housing, while rent and home values have increased.

Philadelphia’s trinity houses—usually three-story rowhomes with a single room on each floor, connected by spiral staircases—are “fantastically on-trend,” writes Dan Nosowitz in Atlas Obscura. “The trinity is Philadelphia’s version of the age-old problem of low-cost, high-efficiency urban housing.”

Kriston Capps says blame zoning, not the tech industry, in this week’s installment of San Francisco Has a Housing Crisis. Any new development—even the ultra-luxury kind—can help keep housing costs down regionally, but zoning policies that limit development in wealthy neighborhoods cause sharp cost increases in more affordable areas. “Since the residents of high-cost, high-demand neighborhoods tend to have mobility, money, and access to information and power, they are hugely successful in leveraging land-use policies to exclude newcomers. They protect what is theirs and shut the gate behind them … So the high-margin development that really should go into the high-end neighborhood winds up replacing cheaper, older, and abandoned housing in low-end neighborhoods.”

Jim Moylan, the Pennsport Civic Association president who was recently appointed chair of the zoning board, is Johnny Doc’s chiropractor. The Inquirer describes some ugly scenes at 3rd and Reed, where the labor leader has clashed with non-union workers at a townhouse development site owned by Barry Sable. Fun fact: Sable initially built the project too tall, got busted for it by L&I, then lifted it off the ground, chopped off some of the first floor, and laid it back down again.

Conservationists and American Indian tribes have partnered to propose the protection of nearly two million acres of land in the red-rock desert in southern Utah. Conservative lawmakers are trying to block the proposal, reports the New York Times.

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is trying to plan the forest of the future at Haddington Woods in West Philadelphia, the Inquirer reports. The effort involves removing invasive species and experimenting with southern plant species that might thrive in a climate-changed environment. “This is not a five-year or a 10-year program. It’s a 50- or 70-year program that you have to pay a lot of attention to,” said Mike DiBerardinis, the former Parks & Rec commissioner who now serves as Mayor Kenney’s managing director.

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