Philadelphia's new waterfront plan should lead the charge to take back the planning process from the city's real estate interests, argues one citizen activist.
"For the better part of 2006, hundreds of residents from across the city gathered in three separate town-hall style meetings to discuss responsible development, planning and zoning reform. At the core of the public's frustration with Philadelphia's development history was the lack of a comprehensive plan to guide community and waterfront development.
...For the first time in a very long time, Philadelphia was trying to plan with the community instead of planning at it."
With details of the plan soon to come, Penn Praxis (a public design effort at the University of Pennsylvania) recently unveiled some highlights to the city's Planning Commission. Though not perfect, it embraces the 300-year-old tradition of William Penn's grid for Philadelphia and advocates an extension of the successful pattern of Center City. Among other items, it dared to suggest that portions of the riverfront could serve as the lungs of the East Coast's second largest city, with open green space, public access to the water, and beautiful vistas for residential leisure and recreational activities.
No sooner did the Praxis presentation end than another of Philadelphia's age-old traditions reared its ugly head: venomous opposition to bold, new ideas."