New legislation introduced by Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker would require developers to expand the information they provide to the public about new building projects. The bill would mandate that everything from project specs, information on affordable housing inclusion, parking impacts and planned wages for construction workers be included on the new forms.
Parker’s office called the new fact sheet a “Project Information Form.” Developers would be required to distribute the forms to district council offices, community groups and all residents and businesses within 200 feet of certain projects.
“The Project Information Form is a communication tool intended to level the playing field by ensuring that all community groups, regardless of their size, technical capacity or skill set, receive a baseline of information when it comes to potential development in their neighborhood,” Parker said.
The forms would only be required for projects exceeding 2,500 square feet, excluding single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes. Only projects that triggered the city’s zoning process, civic design review, or required council action would be affected.
Developers are already required to post orange zoning notices and notify “registered community organizations,” or RCOs. But Parker’s office said the existing rules have tended to favor more “technically sophisticated” RCOs.
“Really, the only information most RCOs get about the project are one or two sentences on that orange flier,” said spokesperson Solomon Leach. “Having seen some of the more sophisticated community-based organizations using similar checklists, she wanted to codify it into a required form.”
Parker’s office said she had consulted with developers like Ken Weinstein on the legislation.
“I strongly support the addition of a Project Information Form because it prompts real estate developers and investors for the information they should be providing anyway,” Weinstein said in a prepared statement.
The city’s Building Industry Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Responses on the new fact sheet would not be legally binding, and developers could opt to ignore more detailed questions. But Leach suggested community pressure would keep builders honest.
“Ultimately, the community is going to hold you accountable,” he said. “When it comes time for them to render a decision on a project, it will be informed by the fact sheet.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Derek Green introduced a reworked bill that would give Philadelphia’s Human Rights Commission the power to order a business to cease operations over discrimination complaints.
A flap over “racist” practices perpetuated by bar owners in the city’s Gayborhood led to a previous bill last year would have empowered the PHRC to revoke businesses licenses over complaints.
Green’s office says the change was made after consultation with the commission.
In other business:
- Council voted 11-6 to place a moratorium on the controversial practice of creating reserved parking spots for charging electric vehicles. EV owners argued the rules were needed to promote green vehicle ownership; critics said the law was a backdoor method of securing a private, on-street parking spot.
- Councilmember Jannie Blackwell introduced two bills that would authorize the City Treasurer to switch a payroll service agreement from Wells Fargo to Citizens Bank.
- Council committees voted out a string of bills to rezone or amend zoning overlays for over a dozen different areas across the city.