Philly Permitted More Than Half the Housing in Pennsylvania in 2021

(New housing under construction in Northern Liberties | Photo: Jon Geeting) Philadelphia had a banner year for housing permitting in 2021, with more than 10,000 dwellings approved by the city permitting authorities. That’s about 3 times as much housing permitted as you’d see in a typical year from the recent past, and the reason has to do with both the timing of the full 10-year tax abatement expiring, and also historically-low housing inventory over the last 2 years.  Continue reading

PA Redistricting Panel Approves Preliminary State Legislative Maps

The Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission that’s charged with redrawing the Commonwealth’s state legislative districts voted in favor of two preliminary maps on Thursday, which were presented for public view the same day. Continue reading

City Council to Shut Down 250 Streeteries at the End of 2021

(Kalaya's streetery will have to be taken down if Council doesn't act. | Photo: Metro Philly) City Council is about to pass a bill legalizing “streeteries” and critically, it would also codify the much easier pandemic-era process for creating new outdoor dining stalls moving forward, albeit in a very limited set of places. Streeteries are the outdoor eateries that many restaurants and establishments used to move their seating outside during the pandemic, which were enabled by some smart policy changes by the Mayor's office and City Council that temporarily drastically cut the permitting time for both sidewalk cafe seating and dining stalls in the parking lanes. We’ve written in the past about this permitting reform success story, and some lessons going forward.  Continue reading

New 'Whole-Home Repair' Bill Could Provide More Basic Systems Repair Funding to PA Counties

(Photo: Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia) A new bill from first-term state Senator Nikil Saval could make an important difference in breaking down barriers for Pennsylvania residents to be able to access the different types of home repair funding on offer from federal, state, and local governments. Continue reading

Seth Bluestein for Interim City Commissioner!

(Deputy Commissioner Seth Bluestein | Photo: Yong Kim, Philadelphia Inquirer) City Commissioner Al Schmidt announced this week that he will soon resign from his position in order to take the helm as CEO of Committee of Seventy, Philadelphia’s venerable century-old good-government advocacy organization. Continue reading

Three Big Opportunities for Philly in the Federal Infrastructure Bill

(Accessible trolley infrastructure on Girard Ave | Image: DVRPC) Congress finally passed an infrastructure bill after months of unsightly sausage-making and the details of the final $1.2 trillion package are still trickling out as everyone digests what the local effects are likely to be for the Philadelphia region. The bill is massive and you can find a good high-level summary of the broad funding areas and what they mean for Philadelphia over at the Inquirer. There are a few things in particular worth calling attention to though that may be especially high-impact for Philly, and that state and local leaders should begin planning around. Continue reading

Darrell Clarke Is Holding Up Deeply-Affordable Habitat for Humanity Homes on City Land

(Habitat for Humanity-built homes on Page St.) Philadelphia City Councilmembers tend to be rhetorically very liberal, but operationally very conservative, when it comes to the topic of housing affordability.  There's a lot of fiery moralizing rhetoric out there from different members about housing as a human right, and the need to ramp up production of more deeply-affordable homes.   Continue reading

Big Federal Electric Vehicle Charging Investments on a Collision Course with Philly Parking Politics

(Photo Credit: Ashley Hahn | WHYY) Vehicle electrification has figured prominently in Democratic politicians’ infrastructure and climate priorities, with various initiatives either already passed or currently in play at the federal, state, and local levels. Continue reading

How Philly’s Next Comprehensive Plan Can Make Housing Fairer

(Source: Philadelphia City Planning Commission) Eric Adams, New York City’s presumptive next mayor, spoke with the journalist/podcaster Ezra Klein about his city’s housing shortage, and how he would try to resolve the dysfunctional housing and planning politics that have blocked progress in addressing it. It’s worth a listen because Adams’s responses contain some important insights for Philadelphia as the Kenney administration and his planning bureaucracy begin to think about undertaking the city’s next Comprehensive Plan. For those not yet familiar, the city’s Comprehensive Plan is the City’s roadmap that guides a lot of the long-term housing and transportation and infrastructure work, and it’s required to be updated once a decade under state law. This is the main opportunity that the Mayor’s office has to impact city housing policy and set long-term policy priorities for the built environment. Continue reading

What Do We Know So Far About Philly's City Council Redistricting?

(City Council Districts by Population Change | Sixty-Six Wards) Last month we shared some initial population numbers for the ten City Council Districts from the 2020 Census, which will be the numbers used to redraw Council districts in the forthcoming redistricting. Continue reading