Controller Report: OPA is Getting Worse at Assessing Land

(Image: Philadelphia Controller) A new analysis from Controller Rebecca Rhynhart confirms a problem we've been flagging here for a while now with the City's assessments, which is that the Office of Property Assessment's method of assessing land values is totally broken. Continue reading

Kenney Street Sweeping Pilot Would Make Air Quality Worse to Avoid Tough Parking Politics

Ryan Briggs and Aaron Moselle report that Mayor Kenney plans to pilot a version of a street sweeping program in six neighborhoods that will avoid asking anyone to move their cars by instead hiring people to blow all the curbside trash into the middle of the street and sweeping it up there. Continue reading

2019 Citizens' Guide Makes the Case for Ward Redistricting

City Commissioner Al Schmidt recently released the 2019 update to the Citizens' Guide he puts together every year, which is a great introduction to all the really useful basic facts of Philadelphia politics, complete with legislator contact information, the divisions that make up all the different local, state, and federal districts, and voter registration statistics for all the different districts. It's a very useful resource to bookmark for all kinds of practical political questions, and I personally refer to it all the time. Continue reading

Philly's Political Wards Haven't Been Redrawn in Half a Century

Congressional and state legislative redistricting is a hot topic that's getting a lot of attention these days, but most of the action isn't going to happen until after the 2020 Census. While we wait, there's a redistricting issue close to home that's worthy of everyone's attention because it's even more egregious, and it's also easier to fix. Continue reading

Single-Family Zoning is a Tax on the Housing Trust Fund

Minneapolis City Council recently rocked the housing policy world by passing a new comprehensive plan that calls for eliminating single-family zoning (and minimum parking requirements!) everywhere within city limits. Under the plan, up to three dwellings would be allowed on any plot of land in the city. This decision has attracted lots of attention among people who follow housing politics nationwide because it's one of the most radical moves taken recently by any large U.S. city to begin dismantling the legacy of housing segregation, and to increase affordable housing choices in more areas of the city. Continue reading

Luck of the Draw: A Bad Way to Hire Judges

(Photo: Jon Geeting) Do you believe that Court of Common Pleas judges, who are responsible for deciding major civil and criminal trials, and family and domestic issues, should be chosen completely at random, by fishing a ping pong ball out of a coffee can? If so, you're going to love Philadelphia's upcoming judicial primaries. Continue reading

This Week: Two Chances to Give Feedback on New Voting Machines

(Image: Commissioner Al Schmidt) We've been writing about the slow-moving process to replace Philadelphia's voting machines before the Governor's deadline in 2020, and now the City Commissioners are evidently springing into action with a couple of public comment sessions on the new voting machines scheduled on a very tight turnaround of less than a week.  Continue reading

Who's Running in Philadelphia's 2019 Municipal Primaries? Here's What We Know

Philadelphia's 2019 municipal primaries are happening in just a few months on May 21st, and if the past two election cycles are any indication, the political mood both nationally and locally seems likely to remain unusually favorable to upstart political candidates independent from the traditional party structure. Is that trend going to hold this year? We're still more than a month away from the petition period to get on the ballot, but here's what we already know about the 2019 field. Continue reading

Smart Growth America Ranks Opportunity Zones on Support for Walkable Urban Development. How Does Philly Stack Up?

Municipal governments across the country are beginning to consider local strategies responding to the new Opportunity Zones created as part of the federal tax reform package last year, which are expected to leverage about $6 trillion in capital gains by recycling them into new business and real estate investment in about 8,700 low-income Census tracts across the country. That makes Opportunity Zones the largest federal community development program, with implications everyone is still trying to comprehend.  Continue reading

MontCo Will Debut New Voting Machines in 2019. Philly's City Commissioners Should Follow Suit.

("The Department of State won't certify our election results??" | Image: WHYY) Governor Tom Wolf has ordered all Pennsylvania counties to purchase new voting machines in time for the 2020 Presidential election, and his Department of State has been selecting the machines that they'll certify for counties to purchase. Many counties, including Philadelphia, have been dragging their feet, and some have even enlisted their state lawmakers to try and counter Wolf so counties can wriggle out of the deadline. And then there's Montgomery County.  Continue reading