I do agree with the belief that planning, zoning and development decisions in Philadelphia are not coherent and are subject to influences that are not in line with the best interests of the city as a whole.
Penn's Landing provides a great example of both the effects of this poor planning and the potential for changing this drag on development. For far too long, Penn's Landing has stood as a symbol of poor planning, political influence, and the failure to build consensus around a unifying vision to develop what should be an incredible asset. I am tremendously encouraged, however, by the planning process under way by Penn Praxis, Design Advocacy Group, and the city Planning Commission. For the first time, it appears as if a thoughtful, deliberative and inclusive process is under way to fully develop the limitless potential of our waterfront.
As mayor, I would favor extending this inclusive planning process for a broad range of input and visionary thinking on the utilization of Philadelphia's other strategic assets, such as the Schuylkill, Fairmount Park, and our transportation infrastructure.
I also support the Next Great City's plan, which calls for clear, predictable rules for development, while preserving neighborhoods. This plan encourages retail development in proximity to transit hubs and provides incentives for building such high-performing and environmentally friendly structures as the Comcast building.
I do believe that the city's planning department needs to be strengthened and our zoning code modernized. This modernization, one of several important initiatives under the Next Great City proposal, will produce what is best for the city, and limit variances that may constantly change. Cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago have successfully revamped their zoning codes in recent years. I believe Philadelphia can better reach our full potential with a zoning code and planning process that takes advantage of the opportunities before us.