Friday, September 22, 2017

Philly's growing, but is it equitable enough?

The city is on the move: Pew Philadelphia Research Projects’ latest “State of the City” report details how jobs, housing, and population have shown steady growth. What does this mean for the next Mayor?

education Icon

City Growth

It's 2015:
What do you care about?

The race for who becomes mayor is always about the issues.

The Next Mayor will be providing background and updates on news and information on the biggest issues facing the city.

We want to hear from you about what you think is critical for the next mayor to handle.

The Big Picture

After 50 years of decline, the city is growing – both in terms of its population and its density. New housing is popping up where vacant lots once stood. Empty storefronts now buzz with small businesses and restaurants, enlivening commercial corridors. But not all neighborhoods are experiencing this growth, and even in places that are growing, it’s not all welcome.

By attracting millennials, immigrants and empty nesters, the city’s changing development landscape is also upsetting the traditional social dynamics of many neighborhoods.

Philadelphia is lucky to have infrastructure to support 2 million people (our peak population, first achieved back in 1950), and so as we grow, we have been able to avoid the crushing housing prices that afflict cities like New York and San Francisco. And yet, much of our historic housing stock – the majority of which is over 50 years old —is in disrepair; high rates of poverty and unemployment exacerbate that situation. The current waiting list for the city’s Basic System Repair Program has 4,000 homeowners.

An overhaul of the city’s property tax system has addressed an unfair and dysfunctional system, but has created challenges for many struggling with property tax bills. While the city has made efforts to lure development and homebuyers through efforts such as the 10-year tax abatement, others consider the abatements to be overly generous and outdated given the city’s growth.

 

Big Battles

Bureacracy vs. free market: The city’s entrenched bureaucracy has often worked against growth, by creating time-consuming and confusing obstacles to developers. But there still remains much room for improvement.

Mayor vs. Councilmanic privilege: City Council members who preside over a district have outsized say over what gets built or developed in their district. A single member not only can veto land purchases or development in their district, for example, but tradition holds that the rest of Council will back them up.

Reform vs retain property taxes and incentives: The next mayor will have to decide if the Actual Value Initiative has successfully addressed the inequalities in our tax code. Should the 10-year tax abatement remain or are there other better incentives?

Cars vs. people and bikes: As the city rolls out bikeshare, it will need to address new ways of ensuring that people, bicyclists and car drivers can share the road safely.

"This is the moment to create a more equitable Philadelphia where every neighborhood is a nice place to live.”"
What's at stake

According to the Philadlephia Association of Community Development Corporation’s platform on “equitable development”: "It’s imperative that Philadelphia nurtures new market-rate development and investment in order to strengthen our tax base, turn vacant properties into vibrant spaces, and make our city a world-class destination. But we must also recognize that the new private investment transforming some of our neighborhoods does not automatically “trickle down” and benefit those who are most economically disadvantaged or struggling to remain in the middle class.”

The next mayor must balance all of these concerns – which can be complicated since many of those issues related to growth can range from the singular – bike lanes, row home maintenance, property tax rates – to the large and complicated, like improving affordable housing, establishing tax policies that encourage job-creating commercial enterprises, and reforming the zoning code.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
#NextMayorPHL

It's 2015:
What do you care about?

The race for who becomes mayor is always about the issues.

The Next Mayor will be providing background and updates on news and information on the biggest issues facing the city.

We want to hear from you about what you think is critical for the next mayor to handle.

Here's a look at what concerns Philadelphians.
This snapshot shows what issues you've told us you think the candidates should address.
© 2015 The Pew Charitable Trusts
How important is the issue of city growth to you?
Not important
Somewhat important
Very important