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

Three Priorities for Philly to Watch in Governor Wolf's Budget

Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his budget proposal this week, with a few major priorities that Philadelphians should be paying attention to that will be a big deal for our ability to get the most out of state spending. Continue reading

Planning is the Alternative to Councilmanic Prerogative

After Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson was indicted this week, a lot of the follow-up analysis has rightly focused on the much-criticized practice of Councilmanic Prerogative—an unwritten tradition where members defer to District representatives on local matters.  Continue reading

PA's Next Presidential Primary Will Move Up Under State Bill

(Image: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) Pennsylvania's 2020 primary is pretty late in the game, scheduled for April 28th this year, long after the excitement of the early states and Super Tuesday. But we do have a sizable tranche of delegates to offer and could play a more pivotal role in the nomination process under a new state bill moving our primary up to March 19th in 2024.  Continue reading

Kenyatta Johnson Indicted Over Alleged Abuse of Councilmanic Prerogative

(Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer) Fresh off his third victory in a contested primary, 2nd District Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson was indicted Wednesday morning at a press conference at the U.S Attorney's office, according to reporting by Chris Brennan and Jeremy Roebuck. Continue reading

Philadelphia Has Second-Lowest Rate of Office Construction Among Big U.S. Cities

                                                                                        (Morgan Lewis HQ rendering | Image: Gensler via the Inquirer)Philadelphia will see its first non-Comcast office tower in a generation, Jacob Adelman reports, as Morgan Lewis officially signed the lease for the new headquarters they're building at 2222 Market.  Continue reading