Tell City Council: Don't Override the Society Hill Overlay Veto!



Mayor Kenney has vetoed the bill! We applaud him for standing up against exclusionary zoning and sticking by his planning staff. As Mayor, Kenney is the one who must keep the city on track to achieve its big picture planning goals for sustainable and inclusive development, abundant and affordable housing, and aggressive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

But the fight continues. Councilmember Squilla has promised to re-introduce the bill at next Thursday's Council session in an attempt to secure a 2/3 majority to override the veto. Council needs to hear it loud and clear: The planning process in Society Hill was not fair and equitable, and Society Hill residents should not get a free pass in failing to absorb citywide housing demand.

We only need 6 members of Council to block a veto override vote and we believe these are the members who most need to hear from everyone this week. Call today and ask them to vote against Bill 200094 to take a stand against exclusionary zoning in Society Hill and against separate zoning rules for our wealthiest neighborhoods.


Society Hill NIMBY ('Not in My Back Yard') activists have been lobbying Councilmember Mark Squilla to help them make their neighborhood even more exclusive, and despite the Mayor vetoing this push at the end of last year, the bill is back again and likely to pass City Council this Thursday.

Sign the petition below to add your name to the list of people in opposition, and if you live in the district, call or email Councilmember Mark Squilla and ask him to cancel the veto override. Email [email protected] or call (215) 686-3458. If you live elsewhere, call or email the following Councilmembers at the addresses below. And please consider testifying at next Thursday's Council meeting, 10/21 @ 10:30 AM.

District 1: Mark Squilla: [email protected](215) 686-3458(215) 686-3459
District 3: Jamie Gauthier[email protected](215) 686-0459215-686-0460

2023 Mayoral Hopefuls
Cherelle Parker[email protected](215) 686-3454(215) 686-3455
Helen Gym[email protected], (215) 686-3420, (215) 686-3421
Allan Domb: [email protected](215) 686-3414(215) 686-3415
Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez[email protected](215) 686-3448(215) 686-3449
Derek Green[email protected], (215) 686-3450, (215) 686-3451

Other At-Large
Kendra Brooks: [email protected], (215) 686-3438, (215) 686-3439
Katherine Gilmore Richardson: [email protected](215) 686-0454(215) 686-0455
Isaiah Thomas[email protected](215) 686-3446(215) 686-3447

To testify:

Call 215-686-3406 by Wednesday at 5 PM. Provide the following:

  • Full name
  • Callback telephone number where you can be reached
  • Identify the bill number number that will be addressed (200094)
  • State whether your comments are for, or against, that particular bill or resolution.

Listen live here:

Society Hill is a neighborhood built upon city-led urban renewal and displacement of working-class residents, deliberately leading to the upscale million-dollar rowhouses we know today. So it’s no surprise that the Society Hill Civic Association’s latest proposed zoning overlay would go even further, limiting most of the area to a 45-foot height limit. When no other neighborhood in Center City has this restrictive a limit for commercial zones, Society Hill is tightening their exclusivity and refusing to absorb their fair share of the demand for high-end housing. This will only send housing pressure outward to vulnerable neighborhoods in South, North, and West Philadelphia and accelerate displacement. As the city's Housing Action plan states, strong market neighborhoods like Society Hill should accept even higher density in order to both facilitate on-site affordable housing, and ensure steady revenue in the Housing Trust Fund, the city's major source of affordable housing funding.

For preservationists, the news is not good either, as the overlay would exempt Society Hill from all of the recently passed zoning bonuses for historic buildings, including allowed uses and removal of parking minimums, placing adaptive reuse projects here in jeopardy and increasing the risk of "demolition by neglect." Letting a handful of residents define Society Hill’s urban context, while ignoring its history of wanton urban renewal that demolished “nonconforming” midrises, is the epitome of hypocrisy and the opposite of good preservation policy.

Councilmember Squilla claims that the bill came out of a multi-year process that was open and fair. This is blatantly false, as Society Hill Civic Association had full control over the plan, not the City's Planning Commission. As an RCO, they require membership fees to be a full member, and merely getting the newsletter often doesn't tell the whole story, just like what had happened with the closed-door bike lane deal for Spruce/Pine. The public can't know what was deliberated unless fully led and coordinated by the Planning Commission.

Now is the time to act. 

Sign and share this petition to help spread the word, and contact City Council today to tell them: Vote NO on Bill #200094!

500 signatures

Will you sign?