Every time Brian O’Neill decides to tinker with the Philadelphia Zoning Code he tries to fuck it up.
In legislation introduced yesterday, Councilman O’Neill who represents District 10 which runs up Oxford Circle to Somerton in the Far Northeast has decided that councilmanic privilege over just City-owned property is simply not enough.
He wants to expand it to all property in Philadelphia, including land that you own.
The amendment he proposed in Bill No. 160525 inserts very innocuous-looking language into the Zoning Code when it comes to the requirements for housing subdivisions:
(.2) The applicant shall provide documentation, in the form of a letter, that the District Councilmember supports any proposed changes to the City Plan before the Commission may consider approval the Preliminary Plat.
Councilman O’Neill’s bill effectively makes all subdivision creation solely at the whim of the councilperson before any development could proceed to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission or could be heard at zoning. Effectively this allows a councilperson to have direct approval power over private development–even development that is by-right under the Philadelphia Code.
A subdivision has a special definition in Philadelphia. It is typically a single parcel of land with multiple homes built on that parcel. Or, it’s a grouping of parcels that is tied together, with houses that sit on them as part of a shared entity. Anyone with a large enough piece of land can create a subdivision. If you’re thinking “the suburbs” where there’s many of these things, you’re not far off the mark. There’s plenty of them in Councilman O’Neill’s council district.
But subdivisions exist elsewhere in Philadelphia. Particularly in places like Fishtown and in South Philly where parking is tight and developers have to find more creative ways to create parking with new home construction that doesn’t involve garage fronts. To eliminate the garage-front problem, some developers will bundle a larger piece of land into a subdivision to create a shared driveway and then create a condo association which sells the rowhomes built facing the street while the condo association maintains the shared driveway in the rear which all the condo owners use.
Subdivisions require extra approvals than just building permits and zoning. All of them have to prepare stormwater runoff plans before the City can authorize development on a site. Under the proposed change you need a letter of support from your city councilperson before anyone at the City can look at your plans. Moreover, the language doesn’t require the Council-member to write a letter of support, or explain why he won’t write a letter—so he can pocket veto it. He doesn’t have to return your phone calls or e-mails asking for a letter.
With this proposal from Councilman O’Neill you literally have to suck Councilmanic Cock before you can go apply for regular permits. This isn’t about buying City-owned land or going through zoning. This is even more basic than that.
It is a massive expansion of councilmanic privilege.
And yeah, this legislation came out of the hands of a Republican too boot.
The only way this could get worse is if O’Neill then proposed you get his permission before you switched from Comcast over to FiOS for your apartment tenants.
I said at the beginning of this article that O’Neill can go eat a bag of dicks. When the new Zoning Code was put into effect he didn’t even wait a year before he tried to start messing with it by trying to fatten parking requirements on most residential and commercial property. He then came back very quickly and went for another bill to ban automotive businesses in his district (remember, it’s the Northeast). Then O’Neill came back again with a dim-witted bill going after daycare centers.
Every single time Councilman O’Neill has attempted to tinker with the Philadelphia Zoning Code it’s been for dumb-ass shit that doesn’t make sense outside his district and rarely makes sense in his own.
I hope Johnny Doc is reading this article today. This bill certainly doesn’t help Local 98 electricians get any new business. Maybe Doc can make some quick phone calls to ensure this thing never finds its way out of committee.Tags: Councilman Brian O'Neill