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City Planning Commission recognized as national leader

In some cities, land use planning and zoning are the last places you’d look for news on cutting edge innovations. Here in Philly, we know better. This April, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) will receive a Best Practice Award from the American Planning Association (APA) for their innovative efforts integrating planning and zoning processes.

PCPC recently coordinated three distinct planning efforts simultaneously: the Citizens Planning Institute, Philadelphia 2035, and a zoning code and map revision.  

"I’m not aware of any other comparable city doing such a comprehensive planning treatment in such a brief period of time," says CPC Executive Director Gary Jastrzab.

Jastrzab and his staff began tackling these projects nearly four years ago. "The last comprehensive plan or major zoning revision was in the 1960s, so it was time for a modernization," he explains.

Four years and countless public meetings, hearings, drafts and re-drafts later, Philadelphia now has a regulatory environment featuring those three profound tools. The Citizens Planning Institute, PCPC’s education and outreach entity, encourages leadership and participation among residents, educating them on urban planning in their communities. Philadelphia 2035, the city’s first comprehensive plan in over 50 years, includes 18 specific district plans either completed, underway or about to get started. Lastly, the city’s zoning reform included both a rewrite of the city’s 50-year-old code and multiple zoning map revisions as recommended in the ongoing Philadelphia 2035 district plans.

"In any city -- let alone one as large and politically complex as Philadelphia -- undertaking either a comprehensive plan, zoning code rewrite, or citizen planner leadership program, would have been a major accomplishment," explains APA Pennsylvania Awards Committee chairman Dennis Puko in a press release. "Philadelphia through 2011 to 2012 did all three, and integrated them to achieve the most positive outcomes."

The Best Practice award for Philadelphia’s Integrated Planning and Zoning Process will be presented at APA’s National Planning Conference in Chicago on Tuesday, April 16.
Source: Gary Jastrzab, Executive Director, City Planning Commission
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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