Monday night’s South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. (SPHINC) zoning meeting was not about zoning.
Of the projects on the agenda, the only one heard was OCF Realty’s proposed mixed-use development at the corner of Point Breeze Avenue and Titan Street, requiring variances for use and lot coverage. But you’d hardly know that from the meeting.
The meeting quickly became an open-mic session about neighborhood change, community control, and the perceived responsibility of private developers. Some neighbors asked legitimate questions (What will the one-bedroom apartments rent for? Will the builders hire people from the Point Breeze community? Could the commercial tenant be a pharmacy?), but many of the public comments were expressions of deep frustration in the face of changes that many residents feel little control over. The frustration and fear is real, and so is the development pressure in Point Breeze. People are worried about higher rents and taxes. So, yeah, the room was tense.