Philly ballot questions: How to vote on 4 proposed amendments to the City Charter | Endorsement
The Inquirer Editorial Board recommends a no vote on Question 1, and yes votes on Questions 2, 3, and 4.
Along with high-profile primaries for Pennsylvania governor and a U.S. Senate seat — and some compelling local races — Philadelphia voters will also get to decide on four proposed amendments to the City Charter in the form of ballot questions. Here’s how The Inquirer Editorial Board recommends that you vote.
Question 1: No
Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to revise the composition of the Zoning Board of Adjustment by increasing the number of mayoral appointees from five to seven; by requiring Council confirmation of the mayor’s appointments; and by specifying qualifications that appointees must possess, including a demonstrated sensitivity to community concerns regarding development and the protection of the character of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods?
This ballot question will significantly reform the Zoning Board of Adjustment by increasing its size, giving City Council power over who is on the board, and requiring specific qualifications from board members. In November, this board called the effort “shortsighted.” A major concern about this proposal is that the city will not be able to quickly fill positions with the people who have the necessary pedigree for certain roles — such as an architect and an urban planner — thus creating a backlog for the board. Delays at the Zoning Board of Adjustment would likely lead to a widespread slowdown of development in the city. That is especially concerning at a time of increasing housing prices. Plus, if there is one thing that Philadelphia doesn’t need, it’s City Council having more control over development. Vote NO.
Question 2 and Question 3: Yes
Should The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to remove all gender-based references?
Should the Educational Supplement to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to remove all gender-based references?
In 2019, in recommending a yes vote on a successful ballot question that made job titles on City Council gender-neutral, this board wrote: “There is no reason for gender to be a part of the way we describe the leadership in our city.” The same is true for the documents describing our city government and schools — and amid a nationwide “culture war” with attacks based on gender identity, this simple edit of governing documents makes an even more important statement than it did three years ago. Vote YES.
Question 4: Yes
Should The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish the Fair Housing Commission as an independent commission to administer and enforce statutes and ordinances concerning unfair rental practices and certain other matters concerning the landlord and tenant relationship and to adjudicate disputes related to such matters?
The Fair Housing Commission is the official body where a tenant can bring a complaint against a landlord with a binding result — for example, asking for fixes to unsafe living conditions in a rental unit that a landlord won’t address. The commission has been in existence since 1962, and what the commission can or can’t do isn’t in question in this election. All this ballot question does is make it part of the charter (like the Human Relations Commission or the newly formed Citizens Police Oversight Commission) such that it can’t be scrapped overnight if a future mayor or City Council decides. Vote YES.