LCB Continues to Hide the Ball on How Many Liquor Licenses Exist

(Supermarkets have been gobbling up all the R licenses and the LCB's won't say how many more there are | Photo: Jon Geeting) Pennsylvania’s policy of promoting sky-high liquor license prices by capping the quantity of licenses in each county is a disaster for new restauranteurs, creativity and experimentation in food culture, and economic development of commercial corridors, but there’s an underappreciated way that the state’s liquor bureaucracy makes this even worse than it has to be, by refusing to tell anybody how many liquor licenses there actually are in the world. Continue reading

The Mixed-Income Housing Program is Working—Now Is the Time to Level It Up

(Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz) The Mixed-Income Housing density bonus program is the closest thing Philadelphia has to a money printer, taking free empty space in the sky and selling it to developers in exchange for cash payments into the city’s Housing Trust Fund or on-site affordable homes. Continue reading

The Voter Participation Costs of Philly’s Polling Place Consolidation

The City Commissioners’ polling place consolidation likely lowered Philadelphia’s primary day vote totals by around 19,000 votes, according to Jonathan Tannen at Sixty-Six Wards——a little under half of Donald Trump’s winning margin in Pennsylvania in 2016. Continue reading

New historic property zoning rules make a big splash

The Kenney administration’s Historic Preservation Task Force released its final recommendations last year, with a range of ideas for planning, funding, and regulatory changes that could step up the preservation of historic buildings in Philadelphia, and generally make it easier to reuse them. Continue reading

Joe Biden wants to make Housing Choice Vouchers an entitlement. Here’s why that’s good for Philly.

(Photo: Sheldrake Apts, funded by LIHTC) One of the better ideas in Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s new housing plan that would go a long way to help Philadelphia’s specific housing challenges is his pledge to make federal Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly Section 8) an entitlement.  Continue reading

State budget woes deepen, highlighting urgency of more federal aid

The U.S. Senate is still working on a deal this summer to, maybe, reluctantly, pass another economic stimulus package to help individuals, companies, and lower governments and infrastructure systems weather the society-wide economic retrenchment needed to suppress COVID-19. The biggest issue remains the expiration of unemployment insurance for many laid-off workers at the end of July, and the coming wave of state and local government lay-offs and budget cuts that together will set off further rounds of economic contraction and rising unemployment. According to one report, these lay-offs could total 4 million public workers.  Continue reading

Newsletter: Vote-By-Mail Election Fixes | Gerrymandering Reigns | State and Local Aid: Now More Than Ever

(Baskets of mail ballots | Photo: Philadelphia City Commissioners) Pennsylvania is one of a few states whose slow mail-in vote counts in the primary are creating a lot of jitters about the possibility of a terrifying Constitutional crisis in November.  Continue reading

Get Ready for Zoning Zooms

(ZBA Chair Frank DiCicco) One trend we’ve been watching throughout the pandemic has been the race to move more government functions and processes into the virtual space, and in particular, the emerging practices around virtual public engagement, which every agency is inventing on the fly. Continue reading

Three Winners and Three Losers from the 2020 Primary

The final vote counts are in and the wild ride that was the 2020 primary has finally come to an end. Despite the lack of a competitive primary at the Presidential level by the time the race hit Pennsylvania, this year featured multiple interesting races for state legislature that ended with voters sending several new faces to join Philadelphia’s delegation to Harrisburg next year, should they prevail in the general election.Let’s take a look at some of the highlights with three losers and three winners from the 2020 primary.  Continue reading

How to Speed Up the Vote Count in November

Another week has gone by and the Philadelphia City Commissioners are still not finished counting the ballots from the June 2nd primary, with about 118,276 of the 161,000+ mail-in ballots counted so far as of Friday morning. Continue reading