PlanPhilly

Urbanism and the mayoral primary: How do the candidates compare?

Welcome to PlanPhilly’s Mayoral Matchmaker: the voter guide for planners, designers, neighborhood advocates, and anyone else who reads this site and cares about how this election will impact nitty gritty planning issues.

We know researching candidates on your own can be time-consuming and laborious, so we created this Mayoral matchup tool we hope will help. In it we’ve distilled what we’ve learned about the candidates’ positions and priorities on a narrow set of 16 issues we think are important to our readers. Use the tool to browse the candidates’ views and opinions, and select the responses you most agree with to see which candidate might be your best match on planning issues next Tuesday.

If you want to learn more in general about the candidates – mayoral hopefuls and beyond – we encourage you to check out the NewsWorks election guide and the Committee of 70’s breakdown. You can also read our candidate Q&A series.

PlanPhilly's Mayoral Matchmaker

Question 1 of 17 Topic: Government

Executive Power

Do the candidates support a strong mayoral form of city government, or more balance between the mayor and city council?

Abraham

Staunchly favors a strong mayoral form of governance: Mayor should run the city, Council should just write laws.

"Mayor is the chief executive of the city. The CEO."

Agree

Kenney

Opposes Council oversight of appointees but "understands" impetus. Critical of Nutter's communications with Council, promises to go to Council early and often.

"A good mayor is a point guard. He or she runs the offense... You can't be a singles tennis player in center court and expect to get things done in a democracy."

Agree

Oliver

Supports giving Council advise and consent power over Mayor's Department head appointments.

"I'd be interested in sitting down with the council president to get a better sense of what he's thinking."

Agree

Street

No public position taken

Williams

Opposes council oversight of mayoral appointees.

Agree

Question 2 of 17 Topic: Government

Planning/Zoning Power

How do candidates view the role of the Planning Commission and the Nutter Administration's focus on zoning reform?

Question 3 of 17 Topic: Government

L&I Reform

How would the candidates approach changes at the Dept. of Licenses and Inspections, which issues permits and enforces zoning and building codes?

Question 4 of 17 Topic: Government

Cabinet Level Transportation Office

Would the candidates keep and support the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities?

Question 5 of 17 Topic: Government

Open Data

How do candidates view data transparency and its implications for governance?

Abraham

Supports open data executive order, Chief Data Officer position, using OpenDataPhilly.org, and releasing city information in machine-readable format.

"We have to be open to innovation and ideas. And I'm open to any platform that will deliver services, make the government work better, be simplified, transparent, be efficient and effective."

Agree

Diaz

Supports open data executive order as a means to hold public officials accountable, even when the result is "embarrassing to public officials." Would maintain Chief Data Officer position, continue using OpenDataPhilly.org, and release city information in machine-readable format. Supports releasing as much Revenue Department and traffic incident data as possible.

"As [Supreme Court] Justice [Louis] Brandeis wrote, 'sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant,' and I believe wholeheartedly in transparency. The people have a right to know how their money is being spent, and to analyze the data and hold public officials accountable."

Agree

Kenney

Pledges to make as much data available as is "legally and technologically possible." Supports Chief Data Officer position, using OpenDataPhilly.org to host city data, and releasing city information in machine-readable format. Would release as much Revenue Department and traffic incident data as the law permits.

"Any public data that isn't protected by privilege or confidentiality should be released to benefit future planning."

Agree

Oliver

Supports open data executive order and would call for "greater access to open records" than Nutter. Supports retaining Chief Data Officer position, using OpenDataPhilly.org for city data hosting, and releasing city information in machine-readable format. Is only candidate not to commit to renewing PhillyStat program. Supports releasing more Revenue Department data, and data on traffic incidents in a timely manner.

"We need to infuse an identity of information into every single department. So more than just the CTO is thinking about technology. We need every commissioner to be thinking about how technology can make their job better."

Agree

Street

No public position taken

Williams

Would continue Nutter open data executive order, maintain Chief Data Officer position, continue using OpenDataPhilly.org to host city data, and release city information in machine-readable format.

"Open data will be a hallmark of a Williams Administration, and key to building public trust and unlocking economic growth."

Agree

Question 6 of 17 Topic: Development

Affordable Housing

Have candidates emphasized developing or preserving affordable housing? What methods and incentives do they favor?

Abraham

Supports increasing the budgets of the Office of Supportive Housing and the Office of Housing and Community Development.

"My housing strategy obviously is working with more CDCs, encouraging that 20-year tax abatement, allowing people to know what the [housing repair and preservation] programs are."

Agree

Diaz

Wants 20% of units in new residential buildings to be preserved for low- and moderate-income residents. The policy would be mandatory for publicly funded projects, and would allow density bonuses on private projects.

"The goal is to leverage existing expenditures and programs as much as possible, to limit costs while creating the most new housing."

Agree

Kenney

Supports the creation of an Affordable Housing Council to coordinate various housing agencies, expanding incentives for affordable-housing development, and bolstering the city's current optional inclusionary housing policy. Would also increase the Housing Trust Fund by $5 million per year.

"The Kenney administration will work with employers located in Philadelphia, and those looking to locate in Philadelphia, to partner and develop housing that is safe and affordable."

Agree

Question 7 of 17 Topic: Development

Real Estate Tax Abatement

Do candidates support the city's current tax abatement program, which waives taxes on any new construction or improvement to a building for 10 years? Have they proposed changes?

Question 8 of 17 Topic: Development

Land Bank

Have candidates demonstrated a commitment to using the new Land Bank to consolidate city-owned property and direct the redevelopment of vacant land?

Abraham

Wants to "energize and depoliticize" the Land Bank and use it to quickly redevelop vacant properties.

"Convert abandoned buildings and vacant lots into productive uses as quickly as possible through use of the Land Bank."

Agree

Kenney

Sees Land Bank as a political tool for stimulating economic and housing development. Wants the Land Bank to acquire vacant properties along neighborhood commercial corridors. Would create an Affordable Housing Council to coordinate Land Bank and other development agencies.

"I will also work with the new Philadelphia Land Bank to capitalize on our land assets to entice businesses to locate in neighborhoods and hire local residents."

Agree

Oliver

In response to a questionnaire, says he would require the Land Bank to prioritize low-income housing development.

"Yes."

Agree

Williams

Wants to use the Land Bank to target tax abatements for certain types of development in certain places.

"So you take an abatement, identify a developer based upon land tracts because we can organize them more effectively, and sell them, in a way that we haven't in the past."

Agree

Question 9 of 17 Topic: Development

Preservation

How do the candidates view the city's historic preservation functions? Do they propose ideas about reuse, designation, or preservation planning?

Abraham

Sees Philadelphia's historic character as an asset that can stimulate development. Supports an accurate inventory of historic properties. Interested in exploring zoning code revisions to incentivize adaptive reuse of historic buildings and new buildings with LEED certifications. Supports facadism.

"I do agree that one of the things we need to do is be more sensitive to historical preservation... There are some burdens that go along with the benefits."

Agree

Diaz

Supports renovation of existing businesses and homes as part of comprehensive "green neighborhoods" revitalization strategy. Supports replacement of half of city's vacant and abandoned buildings with mixed-income housing, community gardens, structured green spaces.

As a community we should "decide which ones we really want to preserve and want to continue to protect... we'll be able to develop those that we can afford to develop and not stop progress and not be against everything because of preservation."

Agree

Oliver

No public position taken

Street

No public position taken

Question 10 of 17 Topic: Transportation & Streets

Vision Zero

To what extent do candidates support the aggressive Vision Zero approach to street safety, which commits the city to reducing pedestrian injuries by half over the next four years?

Abraham

Supports Vision Zero goal of cutting pedestrian injuries and fatalities in half in four years. Will convene a Vision Zero task force of stakeholders as in New York City. Is on the record as skeptical of one particular road diet, the protected bike lane plans for JFK and west Market Street.

"I will seek guidance and best practices from cities that have already implemented Vision Zero, such as New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon."

Agree

Kenney

Supports Vision Zero goal of cutting pedestrian injuries and fatalities in half in four years. Will convene a Vision Zero task force of stakeholders as in New York City. Supports automated enforcement and physical traffic calming in addition to education for road users. Will convene a Vision Zero task force of stakeholders as in New York City.

"Several of the recommendations made by the New York City committee would also make sense in Philadelphia, specifically: automated speed cameras, reduced speed limits, specific "slow zones" across the City in designated danger areas and better street engineering to reduce travel speeds."

Agree

Question 11 of 17 Topic: Transportation & Streets

Streets Funding

Do the candidates support increasing the Streets Department budget?

Question 12 of 17 Topic: Transportation & Streets

Complete Streets

Do the candidates support balancing the needs and desires of all street users, including bicyclists and pedestrians?

Question 13 of 17 Topic: Public Space

Parks and Rec

To what extent do candidates support greater investment in park and recreation resources? Do they have specific proposals about where to direct Parks and Rec resources or how to pay for these investments?

Oliver

Wants to see programming build on existing Parks and Rec infrastructure, emphasizing youth and after-school programs.

"Parks, rec [centers], swimming pools in the neighborhood are more than just words. I think they account for those down hours."

Agree

Street

No public position taken

Williams

Sees increased operating and capital budget for Parks and Rec as crucial for a healthy city with strong property values and good access to parks and rec centers. Interested in pursuing private funding to complement government support for public spaces like rec centers. Would divert some environmental impact fees from state to fund parks.

"Increasing operating and capital budgets for Parks and Recreation is crucial. Underfunding the basic capital needs of Parks and Recreation is short sighted. Thirteen percent of Philadelphia is parkland. Philadelphia has one of the top 5 highest total acreages of park land in the nation. We spend less than almost every city to maintain it. It will improve homeowner equity and enhance population health outcomes, particularly for low-income communities that lack access."

Agree

Question 14 of 17 Topic: Public Space

Trash & Litter

How would candidates clean up Philly? Have they advanced specific proposals to reduce litter and trash?

Abraham

Supports stronger anti-graffiti efforts, more recyling, and prioritizing street cleaning, including citizen cleanups. Interested in a small plastic bag fee.

"Plastic bags are an environmental nightmare."

Agree

Kenney

Supports a comprehensive approach to trash/litter education and enforcement, coordinating SWEEP with trash days/hours. Would explore a plastic bag fee to directly fund the expansion of enforcement efforts and other anti--litter programming. Supports reestablishing mechanical street sweeping program.

"I would like to move forward with a street sweeping program again, and agree that cleanliness is more important than on-street parking."

Agree

Question 15 of 17 Topic: Energy & Environment

Energy Hub

Where do candidates stand on the push to develop an "energy hub" economy in Philadelphia? How would they balance this with other environmental and climate goals?

Question 16 of 17 Topic: Energy & Environment

Sustainability

The Mayor's Office of Sustainability was recently added to the city charter. How would the candidates treat this newly permanent office? How would sustainability values be integrated into municipal decision making and operations?

Diaz

Sees environmental protection as an investment in public health. Advocates for significant emissions reductions, wants stronger measures to protect air and water quality, and a greener transportation network and public fleet. Supports full funding for Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

"I will be guided by two environmental principles as I make every decision. 1) We need to be making our city healthier, and 2) We need to be building sustainably and responsibly for the future with our eye on the long-term. Every policy decision must also be made with an awareness of any opportunities to invest in and promote alternative energy."

Agree

Your Results

  • Government
  • Development
  • Transportation & Streets
  • Public Space
  • Energy & Environment
Lynne Abraham
Abraham
0/17
Nelson Diaz
Diaz
0/17
Jim Kenney
Kenney
0/17
Doug Oliver
Oliver
0/17
Milton Street
Street
0/17
Anthony Williams
Williams
0/17
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PlanPhilly does not and cannot endorse any candidate.

Special thanks to Chris Arasin for designing this tool.



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