Philly's Planning Process Revamp Moving Ahead Slowly
"There are few municipal functions more basic than zoning and planning, the rules and process that dictate what can be built, where it can go, and how it should be done.
In Philadelphia, most agree, that system is badly broken. An ancient zoning code and fickle political forces make building here a risky proposition for any big developer. And the Planning Commission is so weak that even skyline-changing towers can be erected with little to no meaningful input from public planners.
But momentum is clearly building within City Hall for a top-to-bottom overhaul of Philadelphia's haphazard approach to zoning and planning.
A commission formed last year is rewriting the nearly half-century old zoning code. In January, Mayor Nutter swept away all but one of Mayor John F. Street's appointees to the city's three most critical zoning and planning boards and commissions. And this month, Andy Altman started work as Philadelphia's first deputy mayor for planning and economic development.
Even City Council - not usually regarded as a bastion of solid urban planning practices - is showing signs that it might be willing to change the system."