Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Zoning Code Update and Sustainability Policy

Clarion Associates was retained by the City of Philadelphia to lead a team to draft a complete rewrite of the Philadelphia zoning code. Working with consultants Duncan Associates, Claflen Associates, WRT, Portfolio Associates, and CHPlanning, as well as a 31 member Zoning Code Commission of key stakeholders, Clarion completed a thorough Assessment of the current code, a Best Practices report on key innovations, Detailed Recommendations for the new Code, and then the new Code itself.  An extensive public outreach process used a series of six on-line surveys to reach 2,585 Philadelphians, and over 37 neighborhood and district meetings were held. The 57 existing base zoning districts were consolidated into 35, the 33

existing overlay districts were consolidated into 11, and the antiquated list of permitted uses was replaced with a shorter and more flexible approach. Major improvements in landscaping, tree protection, sustainability, open lands protection, and form/design controls were incorporated. Required parking ratios were lowered and maximums adopted, and review and approval procedures were clarified and simplified. The final code was approved unanimously by the Philadelphia City in December 2011 and became effective in August of 2012. The Pennsylvania AIA awarded Philadelphia its 2012 President’s award for excellence for these planning and zoning reforms.