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4 new City Council bills on housing, bike lanes, parking you should know

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A breakdown of bills dealing with important neighborhood issues

There are a number of important bills in City Council that you should know about.
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Late last week, Philadelphia City Council introduced and approved a long list of legislation before heading out for summer recess. That included big-ticket items like Mayor Jim Kenney’s Rebuild ordinance, and as well as some lesser-known, but significant bills worth knowing about.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of some of the noteworthy ordinances that have either earned City Council approval are still in the very beginning stages. They all have to do with housing, transportation, parking, and the city’s infrastructure.


Infrastructure: Bill No. 170206 (approved)

What’s the legislation?

This bill allows the City of Philadelphia to borrow $300 million through a bond from the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) in order to fund Mayor Jim Kenney’s Rebuild program. Rebuild is a $500 million investment to improve Philly’s parks, rec centers, and libraries.

Who’s behind it?

The Rebuild program is considered a cornerstone of Kenney’s agenda. The bill was sponsored by Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilmember Cindy Bass.

What’s next?

Kenney said he plans to sign the bill as soon as it hits his desk. But the City of Philadelphia won’t execute the bond borrowing until the Philadelphia Beverage Tax litigation settles. Just days before the Rebuild vote, the Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of Philly and the beverage tax in a lawsuit filed by the American Beverage Association and local retailers.


Mixed-income housing: Bill No. 170678 (introduced)

What’s the proposal?

The bill calls to update Title 7 of the city’s housing code to include an amendment that would require private developers to include permanent affordable housing units in their residential projects. Specifically, they’d be required to build one unit of affordable housing for every nine market-rate housing units; one unit would have be offered on the site itself and tenants of these units would have access to all the same finishes and amenities.

The Bridge in Old City includes mixed-income housing.
Photo by Melissa Romero

Rental units are targeted to households earning 30 to 50 perfect of the area median income, and homes for sale are targeted to those earning 50 to 80 percent.

As an incentive, developers would be awarded with bonuses that increase height, density, and floor area ratio limits. They would also have the option to pay the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund instead.

Who’s behind it?

The mixed-income housing bill was put forth by Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez and also sponsored by Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. As PlanPhilly noted, “All the sponsors represent districts with large numbers of impoverished residents as well as some of the hottest real estate markets in the city.” It also has the backing of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporation (PACDC).

What’s next?

Quinones-Sanchez only just introduced the bill on the last City Council session before summer recess, so the next few months will involve some fine-tuning before it goes to vote in the fall.


Parking requirements: Bill No. 170672 (introduced)

What’s the proposal?

This bill calls to make some changes to the parking requirements in certain districts in Philly. If passed, the parking requirements of multi-family developments would double, requiring six parking spots for every 10 units. The current Philadelphia Code’s “Zoning and Planning” Title 14 calls for three parking spots for every 10 units, which was passed in 2012.

Who’s behind it?

The bill is sponsored by Councilmember Bill Greenlee and President Darrell Clarke, who in the past has questioned the current parking requirements. Last year, he said, “Everybody’s not going to ride the train, everybody’s not going to take public transit. This is Philadelphia. People drive to the corner store. This is what we do.”

What’s next?

The legislation will be voted on in the fall, when City Council returns from summer recess.


Protected bike lanes: Bill No. 170672, 170289, and 170561 (approved)

The Chestnut Street protected bike lane.
Courtesy of Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

What’s the legislation?

Bills 170672 and 170289 will bring two long-awaited protected bike lanes to two Philly neighborhoods: One on Chestnut Street between 45th and 34th streets (Bill 170672), and another raised, center lane on American Street between Lehigh Avenue and Jefferson Street (Bill 170289).

Bill 170561 will bring a southbound bike lane to 15th Street between Carpenter Street and Washington Avenue. It will be five-feet wide.

Who’s behind it?

Councilmember Jannie Blackwell sponsored Bill 170400 and Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez is the sponsor of Bill 170289. Councilmember Johnson is the sponsor of the 15th Street bike lane.

What’s next?

With City Council’s approval, the three bills now are in the hands of the mayor for final approval. The Bicycle Coalition notes that they are also hoping to eventually get the Chestnut Street lane extended to Cobb’s Creek and connect to Center City.