Philadelphia Passes Long Overdue Zoning Code Reform

The prior code, adopted in 1962 and amended with with nearly 1,000 ad-hoc revisions since then, required a strict separation of uses and outlawed the classic Philadelphia rowhouse typology.

According to David Morley, writing for the APA Sustaining Places blog, the prior code was also seen as a major barrier to investment. The new code, nearly five years in the making, has been streamlined and is geared towards encouraging sustainability, protecting neighborhoods, and promoting quality and design.

While a successful document in many ways, Morley finds it somewhat odd that zoning reform will be enacted ahead of completion of the city's concurrent comprehensive planning effort: the Philadelphia 2035 Citywide Vision.

"In some ways, the approach of simultaneous plan making and zoning reform sounds ideal. The time for completing both projects is shorter and there were many opportunities for participants to see relationships between planning themes and zoning provisions. In other ways, it seems a little strange. The planning team and the zoning team operated independently, and specific plan policies generally followed the development of specific zoning standards, rather than vice versa."

Full Story: Promoting Sustainability through Zoning Reform in Philadelphia

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