Zoning Revision Process Hits Snags in Philadelphia

A pair of advocates criticize recent actions to slow zoning revisions in the city of Philadelphia.

March 24, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

William Penn

FotosForTheFuture / Shutterstock

Benjamin She and Chi-Hyun Kim, members and volunteers of 5th Square’s housing committee, an organization focused on zoning, land use, and housing issues in Philadelphia, pen an opinion piece for WHYY and Plan Philly to oppose a series of bills introduced recently in the Philadelphia City Council that disrupt pro-housing development reforms and revisions planned for the city's zoning code.

The new bills grew out of an annual process of adjusting the zoning code, which has taken place since the last comprehensive rewrite in 2012. The most recent round of revision went awry during the debate about Bill 210078, introduced by 7th District Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez. According to the opinion piece, the bill "was met with indignation at the bill’s hearing before the council’s Rules Committee," resulting in changes that will make it harder to develop accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

In addition to the new obstacles for ADU development, "2nd District Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson introduced his own amendment that would bar developments in an entire ZIP code (19146) from having to pay into the Housing Trust Fund in lieu of building inclusionary housing units for the Mixed-Income Housing density bonus," according to She and Kim. "The amendment passed last Thursday in a City Council vote."

To summarize the effect of these amendments, She and Kim write: "These arguments show a major disconnect between what many of our lawmakers prioritize and the actual basic needs of Philadelphians. Our elected officials must recognize that abundant housing is fundamental to a healthy and thriving city, not a nuisance to be mitigated, delayed, or blocked."

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 in WHYY

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