$1 Land Sales and City Council's Role in the Blight Problem

In a follow-up piece to their earlier report on people flipping land they bought for $1 from the City, Claudia Vargas, Chris Williams, and Dylan Purchell found 500 examples of blighted or tax-delinquent lots owned by people who benefitted from $1 land deals, which were allowed to rack up garbage and tax debt totalling almost $900,000. Continue reading

Citywide Street Sweeping Is Actually Going to Happen

Mayor Kenney included a proposed over $10 million for street sweeping in his budget proposal to City Council for fiscal year 2021 this week, with $67 million pledged over the next 5 years. While it's too soon to unfurl the 'Mission Accomplished' banner just yet, it's worth taking a minute to celebrate this milestone and take stock of just how far the politics of this issue have moved in the past couple years. Continue reading

Rep. Chris Rabb Wants a More Open Process for Special Election Nominations

Philadelphia had another special election this week in the 190th state House district, where Roni Green, the Democratic nominee, handily won with 85%. Green will finish out former Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell’s term—the second state Rep. in a row to leave the office following a criminal conviction.  Continue reading

Wolf: Over 20,000 People Signed Up to Vote By Mail Already

Over 20,000 Pennsylvania voters have already signed up for PA’s brand new vote-by-mail program since the state launched their online application two weeks ago on February 14th. Continue reading

Council Moves Forward with Domb’s Low-Income Wage Tax Credit

Several of the bills that Mayor Kenney pocket-vetoed at the end of the last term have since found their way back onto the agenda in City Council, and one of the most high-profile of those that resurfaced is Councilmember Allan Domb's bill creating a new low-income wage tax credit. That passed Council this week. Continue reading

Clarke to ZBA: Explain Yourself

Philadelphia’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approves over 90% of zoning variance applications—exceptions to city zoning rules—and has for some time, which runs contrary to one of the big goals of the 2012 zoning reform package. Continue reading

Putting a Bias for Action into City Permitting

A new report by Burns McDonnell for Keep Philadelphia Beautiful examined how Philadelphia and eight other Pennsylvania cities spend their resources on litter prevention versus clean-up (“litter abatement”). The report includes a useful rundown of all the organizations, departments, and city programs that touch on the litter issue, to present a more holistic sense of Philadelphia’s approach. Continue reading

New State Bill Would Make It Harder for Philly to Raise Revenue

A state bill moving forward in the state House could cut into Philadelphia’s ability to raise tax revenue for city services at a time when the city tax base is finally starting to hit its stride as a result of job growth and rising housing prices. Continue reading

Big Apartment Buildings Are Behind Philly's New Home Construction Record

Philadelphia set a new housing construction record in 2019, according to newly-released Building Permits Survey data from the Census. Due to a late surge in December, the city reported a 2019 total of 4,566 housing units for the year, breaking the previous post-Recession record of 3,973 in 2014.  Continue reading

Why We Shouldn't Let Elected Officials be Ward Leaders

(65th Ward leader Bobby Henon could control up to 15% of the vote for his Council successor | Photo: Councilmember Bobby Henon) Philadelphia City Council's two indicted members, Bobby Henon and Kenyatta Johnson, are both ward leaders who could have an official vote on their own replacements under certain circumstances, even if they're convicted and removed from office. In an Inquirer op-ed earlier this week, I described how this could potentially work, along with some things the Philadelphia Democratic Party could do to head off that possibility. Continue reading