What's In the American Rescue Plan for Philly?

(Joe Biden campaigning in Philadelphia) Congress has finally passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, a historic piece of legislation that will provide a massive amount of economic aid to households, businesses, and state and local governments, along with many other significant changes that everyone is still unpacking. An analysis by the Urban Institute estimates that the combined changes will reduce the number of people living in poverty in 2021 from 44 million to 28 million, and cut child poverty in half. Continue reading

Derek Green to Hold Hearings on a Land Value Tax Shift

(Image: Center for Property Tax Reform) Councilmember Derek Green introduced an interesting resolution this week to hold hearings on the idea of shifting Philadelphia’s property tax in the direction of land value taxation. Continue reading

The Mixed-Income Housing Bonus is Good, and City Council Should Let It Work

(This completely fine building is patient-zero for the end of the Mixed-Income Housing program in Graduate Hospital | Image: Gnome Architects) Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron’s recent columns on two different homes that were demolished in Graduate Hospital, to be replaced with new homes using the Mixed-Income Housing density bonus, appears to have prompted some legislative action this week, although perhaps not in the way she intended. Continue reading

Federal Earmarks Are Back. Let’s Make It Count.

(Modern trolleys could move up the list | Image: DVRPC) President Biden has signaled his interest in pursuing action on infrastructure and transportation investments after the COVID aid package concludes. This is potentially a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make large transformative investments in transportation, renewable energy, broadband, and more, and it’s critical that our state and local leaders make smart choices about what to ask for. Continue reading

Major Elections Overhaul Heads to US Senate

National Democrats’ ambitious voting and ethics reform bill, HB1, passed the House on Wednesday night, and headed to the Senate on Thursday, where Vice President Kamala Harris broke a tie to end a filibuster and kick off debate on the Senate version. The House bill passed on partisan lines, with zero Republican Reps supporting it, and only one Democratic Rep voting no. Continue reading

Continued OPA Dysfunction is Leaving Money on the Table and Making Budget Season Harder

Property tax collections have been holding up relatively better than other city taxes throughout the last year, and Kevin Gillen’s Q4 housing report for Drexel found that city home values increased by about 12.8% from one year ago. Under a functional assessment system, this increase in real values could be cushioning the blow more from the COVID-related budget hits, but in the world we live in, the city's not bringing in what it should. Continue reading

Biden Says Vaccine Supply is Ahead of Schedule. Will Philly Be Ready?

Two weeks after the political fallout from the 'Philly Fighting COVID' mess, anxiety continues to swell around the Kenney administration’s handling of the vaccine rollout, and this week an interesting leadership rift spilled out into the open, where a team including several City Council members, former Congressman Bob Brady, former Mayor John Street, and a few unions leaders announced an independent effort to open a mass vaccination site at Lincoln Financial Field. Continue reading

The Need for Speed

(Image: Cohen Medical Associates) One big risk to watch for in the political fallout from the ‘Philly Fighting COVID’ debacle is that we might see an overcorrection from elected officials where, in trying to show that future city contracts with vaccine providers are all on the up-and-up, they could create an unnecessary bottleneck that slows down the pace of vaccination. Continue reading

Councilmember Sanchez’s Permit Parking Blacklist is a Tool Whose Time Has Come

(The no-parking Fergie Tower is ripe for the Permit Parking Blacklist) At the end of last year, Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez recently introduced a bill that would bring to life a version of an idea that has been kicking around in local urbanist advocacy circles for a few years now: the Permit Parking Blacklist. Continue reading

How Mayor Kenney’s Slippage on Quality-of-Life Issues is Fomenting Anti-Housing Politics

(He used to get it | Photo: Inquirer) Ryan Briggs writes this week about a troubling trend that’s played out over the years since Philly passed its landmark Zoning Code Commission legislative package back in 2012, but which seems to be picking up steam as of late: the practice of creating random new zoning overlays with no relationship to the City’s comprehensive plan. Continue reading