The U.S. Census Bureau has released its population estimates for 2012 and it shows Philadelphia gaining population for the 6th consecutive year. In 2012, Philadelphia gained 9,040 people for a total population of 1,547,607. Thank goodness! This means that since the 2010 census, it’s estimated that we’ve gained over 21,000 residents. This makes us the second fastest growing county in the region!
As a part of our city’s comprehensive plan, Philadelphia2035, we estimated that the city’s population would grow by 100,000 between 2010 and 2035. Since the 2010 decennial census, Philadelphia has made great strides in achieving this goal.
Now, as the Planning Commission, we would love to have good planing and our first comprehensive plan in 50 years take all the credit, but we know that Philadelphia’s growth can be attributed to a lot of factors from national demographic trends, to economics, to our city’s “good bones”, and just to how creative, entrepreneurial, and strong Philadelphians can be.
But where do we think these new Philadelphians are living? Are there particular neighborhoods that are growing? Until the next decennial census we won’t know the answer for sure, but we’ve looked at new construction building permits for the past year to provide a visual snapshot of where our many thousands of new-found residents are creating demand for new and more housing options. The map below represents 4,853 permits for new construction alone. When you add in alterations and additions, this number soars to some 55,000 permits!
We’re pleased to announce – on the eve of our sold out event tomorrow, no less! – that the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) has been awarded the 2013 Best Practice award from the American Planning Association (APA) for our “ innovative approach at leveraging the synergy between citizen education, planning, and zoning reform.” This is referring to our three-legged-stool approach to how we plan for the city’s future through 1) Philadelphia2035, 2) the rewritten zoning code, and 3) The Citizens Planning Institute.
We won’t physically receive the award until this year’s APA national conference, taking place this April in the Burnham-tastical land of Chicago, but we’re excited to announce this in what we hope will be a series of positive headlines throughout this calendar year. Our incredibly planning-savvy populace is mostly used to how our agency and so many others do business: what works and what doesn’t, the regulatory wins and political debates, the iterative planning process and its seemingly endless parade of meetings and charrettes and visioning sessions. So it’s particularly valuable and important for an outside organization to help us take a step back and acknowledge that what are carrying out on a daily basis here is no small feat. More importantly, it’s very different than how we operated even a few short years ago.
We feel APA’s Dennis Puko says it best in the press release, which you can read HERE: “In any city, let alone one as large and politically complex as Philadelphia, undertaking either a comprehensive plan, zoning code rewrite, or citizen planner leadership program, would have been a major accomplishment. Philadelphia through 2011 to 2012 did all three, and integrated them to achieve the most positive outcomes.”
While we bask ever so briefly in the glow of national recognition, we will also be the first to say that this recently established framework for educating, advancing policy, and implementing regulation will be all the more laudable if we can continue to make things happen through its structure: zoning map revisions based on District Plans; capital projects winning outside grants through their prioritization in our plans; by-right projects rolling through with more frequency; and more citizens leveraging their new-found understanding of these systems to achieve better outcomes for their communities. We’ll continue to track how all of this plays out across Philadelphia as this year and the ones after out come and go. In the meantime, you should feel glad to live in a place that’s turning heads for how it’s attempting to frame its future.
Do you all read Hidden City? Because you really should. Our new blog followers with a love for planning will be particularly interested to see all the great pieces they’re featuring this week about the Lower Northeast District Plan and the projects it recommends.
1) Nathaniel Popkin sets the tone with his haunting prose
2) Elizabeth Schlingmann gets into proposed zoning changes along Castor Avenue
3) Ariel Diliberto describes how PCPC staff are working with other agencies to bring a Frankford Creek Greenway closer to reality
We’re glad to see so much attention being paid to the Lower Northeast District, or as we like to call her around the office to save time, LNE (this is prononced Lonny, like Johnny, but with an “L”). Such abbreviations are necessary in government to get through meetings in less than four hours. To wit:
Planner 1: Did you see the FAQ in the RFP that DRWC released? They did a great job explaining how the selected developer will need to work with the RCO during CDR. Planner 2: Totally, they did a great job! (Note: this did not actually happen! Just an example!).
But we digress. Read up on LNE, and look for the draft plan release next Tuesday.