Old City Civic Association, 1973-2013

Old City Civic Association, one of the longest-running formal neighborhood groups in Philadelphia, succumbed to the elements earlier this week. At a meeting on Monday, May 6th, the organization’s board voted it out of existence as a civic association.

According to Joe Schiavo, former chair of the association’s liquor committee, the group will have another meeting next week to decide how to use the group’s corporate, 501(c)(3) identity. Schiavo said that whatever is decided, the group will not be reformed as a civic association.  

OCCA disbanded its developments and liquor committees two weeks ago because it could no longer afford the cost of Directors and Officers insurance: it had been sued by developers too many times. Read previous PlanPhilly coverage of that story here.

Some members of OCCA considered forming a new organization to take up zoning matters, without insurance, Schiavo said, but that plan was quickly nixed.

“The reality is, if you take the same people and you form a new civic, you’re equally uninsurable,” Schiavo said.

The organization was founded in 1973 and, to the consternation of some, fought hard over the years to prevent the proliferation of new liquor licenses and to keep the scale of new development in Old City small. Schiavo, who was also co-chair of the group’s developments committee, said he would not continue to formally weigh in on developments in the neighborhood even as an individual, because he feels that his statements will be too easily associated with the now-defunct civic association.

“I’m saddened by the course of events, because I think there’s a lot of good people that have applied themselves to the work of the civic association,” Schiavo said. “And frankly, to a degree, I feel responsible, because I‘m one of the people doing the upfront work that drew this fire. I’m having trouble shaking a sense of responsibility for this outcome … but I’ll grow out of it.”

OCCA President Ryan Berley did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

About the author

Jared Brey, Zoning and development reporter

Jared Brey writes about development, zoning policy, and city government for He wasn't interested in being a reporter until halfway through a master's program in journalism at Temple University that he intended to parlay into an academic career. His work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, City Paper, Business Journal, and Metropolis. 

Jared grew up in Montgomery County and moved to Philadelphia in 2005. He has since lived in Brewerytown, the Italian Market, North Central, Bella Vista, and East Passyunk. He believes he will stay in South Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @jaredbrey, or send him tips at

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