Philadelphia's Francisville neighborhood is fortunate to have a strong and consistent process of community engagement that has guided the neighborhood through a period of dramatic change and has led to a shared vision for the neighborhood. This vision will only be realized, however, if the property zoning is consistent with the community's goals.
Unlike many neighborhoods, Francisville’s zoning is not out of date; it’s current.
The zoning in place is a reflection of the community’s existing desire to jumpstart Ridge Avenue as a strong commercial corridor that can draw enough foot traffic from nearby neighbors to support the kinds of small businesses and services we all want close to home. The current zoning also reflects a desire to provide abundant housing for residents of all income brackets in order to foster a diverse and inclusive community.
So far, this plan seems to be working pretty well for Francisville.
But this February, without so much as a single public hearing, a bill was introduced on behalf of Council President Darrell Clarke to rezone a significant portion of the neighborhood. Why?
Clarke’s self-stated goal -- to create more workforce housing -- is a commendable goal, and it is one that the Francisville master plan already prioritizes. Yet this bill doesn’t make any real progress towards that objective. Instead, it throws a wrench into Francisville’s community planning goals.
Aside from the lack of engagement with Francisville residents, the key problem is the bill would downzone the equivalent of three whole blocks, creating a lower residential density immediately adjacent to Ridge Avenue.
This would weaken the very neighborhood commercial corridor that many, including Council President Clarke and Mayor Kenney, would like to see thriving once more. It's an outcome that surely nobody wants - not the existing community, not future residents, and not Council President Clarke.
The good news is that the bill has been delayed for a few weeks at the request of Francisville residents. The bad news is that the bill may still go through as currently written.
In the interest of all involved, we believe the bill should be withdrawn.
We understand that not every concerned Francisville resident has time to attend every public meeting, and public meetings don't always provide the best venue to offer thoughtful commentary. So we're here to help.
If you believe this bill should be withdrawn, sign this petition and share it on Facebook.