Skip to Content

News & Resources

Philadelphia zoning changes delayed again

9/19/2011 | Real Estate Blog

Philadelphia City Council efforts to revise important development regulations were once again postponed following two meetings in as many weeks. The delays have drawn criticism from those who believe the Council is dragging its feet in revising the zoning code. But others feel that, with a code dating back to the 1930s, taking a little more time to get the revisions right is a good approach.

The City Council began this fall’s efforts to complete four years of work on Wed., Sep. 7 with a meeting that, despite having other issues, centered on the zoning laws. They rescheduled a hearing for the following Wednesday. On Sept. 14 that meeting adjourned after more than six hours with no decision made, despite the fact that there was general satisfaction with the new plan, only disputes over details.

As it currently stands, the code forces most modern construction plans to require some kind of variance. Many projects have already been delayed waiting for the new regulations, and zoning difficulties have kept outside businesses from moving into the city. Additionally, at the end of the year Philadelphia may be replace up to seven of its City Council members and that could effectively mean the council will be back at the drawing board.

Two council members actually seem to have slowed the progress earlier this year, one offering up 10 amendments. The real issue now seems to involve whether special interest groups have anything new to add after four years of debate. Some are worried the City Council, unable to please everyone, will simply do nothing. There is no doubt that, in order to move forward, the council will have to make hard choices, and will not be able to please everybody.

Since the council has now continued debate into a Sept. 27 hearing, more waiting is in order at the moment.
Source:, “Tough issues await Philadelphia City Council,” Troy Graham, Sep 8, 2011.