RESOLUTION ON STREAMLINING AND MODERNIZING PHILADELPHIA’S ZONING CODE AND ZONING REVIEW PROCESS

WHEREAS, Philadelphia’s Zoning Code is over 40 years old and 624 pages in length and its review process for approving proposed residential development may involve up to 14 different agencies and is cumbersome and at times unpredictable; and

WHEREAS, Philadelphia has lost 25% of its population in the last fifty years and continues to lose population, in particular from the middle class; and

WHEREAS, Philadelphia’s middle class makes up only 19% of its population - a smaller middle class than 75% of the largest cities in the nation - and replenishing this middle class is central to the city’s economic revitalization; and

WHEREAS, Philadelphia issued building permits for fewer housing units in 2002 than any of the nation’s ten largest cities; and

WHEREAS, it has been demonstrated that a revised, streamlined and simpler zoning code can aid a large city such as Philadelphia in approving needed housing units, lowering costs of new housing; increasing tax revenue; creating new jobs and attracting new residents; and

WHEREAS, in October, 2004, the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia released a report entitled “If We Fix It, They Will Come” which suggests ten ways to modernize and simplify Philadelphia’s Zoning Code and its review process; and

WHEREAS, the reforms recommended in this report will help transform Philadelphia from a city unattractive to many developers into a competitive environment that encourages new investment, lower building costs, and positive growth.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association hereby:

1. Supports the reform agenda detailed in the report “If We Fix It, They Will Come” to modernize the Zoning Code and streamline the development review process.

2. Supports improving the development review process in Philadelphia through the ten recommendations detailed in the report. In particular, the Association urges the following be implemented at the earliest time possible:

a Increase transparency in the development review process;

b. Adopt a modern, simplified zoning code and re-map City neighborhoods;

c. Provide for a joint agency fast-track review process for large-scale development;

d. Create one comprehensive electronic zoning map that includes all overlays and amendments;

e. Make storm water management the responsibility of one agency with one standard;

f. Deliver site control of vacant and distressed properties to developers in a fast, predictable timeframe with clear standards.

3. Urges Mayor Street and City Council to adopt and implement these recommendations;

4. Agrees to work with the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia and other interested parties to develop strategies on how best to implement these reforms, and to develop other reforms to permit ease of development and/or lower costs to building projects in Philadelphia; and

5. Authorizes and directs the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association to take whatever steps are necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: NOVEMBER 22, 2005