Philadelphia’s Integrated Planning and Zoning Process

From the APA - PA Southest Section Blog: Philadelphia’s Integrated Planning and Zoning Process

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) and Zoning Code Commission (ZCC) will carry out an “in­tegrated planning and zoning process” over the next several years to envision a bright future for Philadelphia, plan for it strategically, and take action to ensure success. The process includes three interrelated components:

Philadelphia2035: The Comprehensive Plan

The Comp Plan consists of two tiers: a Long-range Citywide Plan and 19 Strategic District Plans. These coordi­nated efforts will yield a broad, long-term vision that is fully integrated with geographic-specific imple­mentation strategies for communities across the city.  This work officially begins in winter 2010, building upon the data-gathering and early public-outreach efforts of Imagine Philadelphia: Laying the Foundation.

Citizens Planning Institute

The Institute is intended to be the educational arm of the PCPC.  It will provide an accessible forum for the public to learn about general planning principles and how to help resolve specific planning and zoning is­sues as they arise. Importantly, the Institute will increase the capacity of citizens and civic organizations to participate in planning their com­munities and the city.  A spring 2010 launch is planned.

Zoning Code Rewriting and Remapping

The zoning-reform effort will result in a new code and the means for implement­ing it. Sections of the city will be remapped based on classifications established in the new code and the goals, principles, and recommendations of the Comp Plan.  The code rewriting process is in full swing and expected to be completed by end of 2010, with remapping—district by district—to take place over several years thereafter.

Philadelphia’s Zoning Code Reform Process

In 2007, the voters of Philadelphia created a Zoning Code Commission (ZCC) to reform and modernize Philadelphia’s outdated and complex zoning code.  The 31-member Commission - comprised of City officials, representatives of business, civic and labor organizations, as well as attorneys, planners, architects and developers - is supported by a Consultant Team led by Clarion Associates and Duncan Associates.

The project has three phases:

  • Recommend.  Develop a roadmap for the new code.
  • Rewrite.  Write a proposed new code and a plan for zoning remapping.  The ZCC will release the proposed new code in three modules.
  • Remap.  Remap areas of the City, consistent with the new code. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission will carry out this phase.

The ZCC completed Phase 1 in November 2009. The timeline for the remaining phases is as follows:

  • February 2010: ZCC solicits feedback on Administration and Procedures module.
  • April 2010: ZCC solicits feedback on Districts and Uses module.
  • July 2010:  ZCC solicits feedback on Development Standards module.
  • Fall 2010:  ZCC presents revised zoning code to Philadelphia City Planning Commission and City Council.
  • 2011: PCPC begins remapping.

For more information and key documents released by the ZCC, updates and general zoning information, please visit the PCPC and ZCC’s websites: and

About the author

Andrew Goodman, Community Engagement Director, New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Goodman is currently the Community Engagement Director at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.

Previously, Goodman worked as a city planner and project manager for PennPraxis. His focus was on projects that combined community engagement and public space design, including the Central Delaware Waterfront Planning Process, the Green2015 initiative for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Bartram’s Mile project in Southwest Philadelphia.  Goodman was an early contributor to PlanPhilly and helped shape the site in its first iteration.  As PlanPhilly grew, Goodman represented the publisher and provided professional planning input and project management support as the site expanded its beat coverage, went through multiple redesigns, conducted an internal strategic plan, and researched revenue generation opportunities.

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