That Time Jim Kenney Appointed Johnny Doc's Chiropractor to Run the Zoning Board

(Jim Moylan | Image: 6ABC) With the news that former Zoning Board of Adjustment chair Jim Moylan has plead guilty to federal fraud and tax evasion charges related to his theft from Local 98's charitable non-profit, it's time once again to remember that back in 2016, Mayor Jim Kenney really did appoint Johnny Doc's chiropractor to lead the agency that approves about a quarter of the development projects that happen in Philadelphia. Incredibly, that is a thing that happened not too long ago. Continue reading

How Philly Stacks Up on New "Ease of Doing Business" Rankings

A new study from Arizona State University attempts to compare the ease of doing business in large North American cities across six different metrics, and they find that in the U.S., Philadelphia is the 12th most difficult place to start a business, coming in 59th out of 66 U.S. cities. Compared to all big cities in North America, we were closer to the middle of the pack. And while you have to take these kinds of rankings with a grain of salt, since they couldn't possibly have captured the full context for all of these cities, they're still useful for highlighting some areas where we're further out of step nationally. Continue reading

City Council's Long and Mistaken Quest to Raise Parking Minimums Comes to an End

(Unused parking in Northern Liberties | Image: Bright MLS) One of the long-running sagas we've been following here since 2016 is the push from Council President Darrell Clarke and 3rd District Councilmember Jannie Blackwell to increase minimum parking requirements in the zoning code—an idea so bad there's a whole 800-page book devoted to how terrible it is. Continue reading

NYC Could Become Biggest U.S. City to Adopt Ranked Choice Voting

(Image: Jon Geeting) New York City could become the largest U.S. city to adopt ranked-choice voting this November, if voters there pass a ballot referendum recommended by their Charter Revision Commission. A win there could help provide a momentum boost to recent efforts to bring RCV to Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.  Continue reading

In Changing the 10-Year Abatement, Focus on the Number of Homes Created

(Multi-family buildings have a better per-unit value for our tax abatement spending | Image: PMC Property Group) Some prominent members of the Building Industry Association signaled their openness to some type of compromise on reforming the 10-year tax abatement on property improvements at their recent conference, Michael D'Onofrio reports, raising the question of what kind of Plan B is best for those concerned about potential impact of any changes on housing creation. Continue reading

How PPA's New Parking Kiosks Can Bring Philly Parking Policies into the 21st Century

(The biggest change will be replacing the rest of the coin-operated meters | Image: ZD Net) The Philadelphia Parking Authority announced this week they'll be replacing their existing green parking kiosks with new models that use people's license plates to store payment info, rather than the paper tickets that you put on your dashboard now. But what seems on its face like a pretty ho-hum procurement story actually has some larger and more interesting policy implications, or at least it could if the PPA and city officlals want it to.  Continue reading

Proceed With Caution on Historic Districting

(Photo: Plan Philly/Eyes on the Street, used under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0) Several high-profile demolitions of historic buildings, most notoriously on Jewelers Row, have increased the salience of historic preservation politics in Philadelphia recently. The Mayor convened a Historic Preservation Task Force to revamp local preservation policy, and there are now three bills in City Council that aim to make historic designation more attractive for property owners. And there is indeed a good case to be made that Philadelphia, as a city whose brand is so tied up in its historical significance, should be doing more to incentivize historic preservation and generally make it easier to designate historically-significant buildings for special demolition protections. It would be better if more developers would reuse older buildings more often instead of tearing them down to build new.  At the same time, there's one area where our preservation policy is basically getting it right—even though many advocates don't like it—and that is the relatively high bar for creating new historic districts where whole neighborhoods, or large sections of neighborhoods, are placed under strict regulations for alterations or demolitions of existing buildings, and even the aesthetics of new construction.      Continue reading

How to Cut Traffic Congestion By Fixing Trash Policy

(Dumpster Alley | Photo: Bill West) Over the past year, the Kenney administration's transportation team, SEPTA, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, and the downtown business community have spent a lot of time thinking about different solutions to worsening traffic congestion, and the administration has even piloted some ideas like expanded loading zones, and more regular enforcement of the bus-only lanes on Chestnut and Market.  Continue reading

To Fix the Land Bank, We Need to Cut City Council Out of Approval Process

(How to fix land disposition) A package of Land Bank process reforms moved out of a key City Council committee this week, and now goes to the full Council for approval. If enacted, the changes would represent some important advances for the Land Bank in terms of a more transparent and rule-based process for selling city-held land, but unfortunately, they still leave the biggest problem untouched—the City Charter's requirement that City Council pass an ordinance to sell any land. With the ordinance requirement still in place, District Council members will continue to exert as much influence over land sales as they always have, and the new and improved process will amount to little more than official window dressing.  Continue reading

We Still Need PICA After 2023

The Inquirer editorial board flags an important issue that will be decided during the next Mayor and City Council, which is whether or not to renew the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority—better known by its acronym PICA—which is set to expire in 2023. Continue reading