On Wednesdays – or, during holiday season, when we can get to it – we challenge Philadelphians to DEFINE THAT PLANNING TERM, an esoteric game where the prize is…knowledge. If addition to being able to throw a a super-geeky planning term around correctly, this week you can also learn a non-English word (hint, hint). Also the plural of woonerf is woonerven. Now you know that’s going to come in handy when you’re on Jeopardy! some day.
So, quiz time. A woonerf is:
1) A foam projectile toy that makes you go “Woo!”
2) The Farsi word for a small yappy dog.
3) A Dutch word for a street where pedestrians and cyclists are given priority over cars and have access to the entire street.
4) A classic Belgian beer style.
Today marks another step in the enactment and institutionalization of Philadelphia’s new zoning code with the announcement of six of the seven committee members for Civic Design Review. It’s wonky, as are most of the things we like to talk about, because this group is tasked with assessing the impacts projects have on the public realm. But it’s also a ‘thank goodness’ moment because we’ve been waiting for a standardized way to address these issues in the development review process, and the new code came up with CDR as a way to codify the way these discussions will proceed. CDR establishes a predictable way for developers, design professionals, and the public to engage on issues of walkability, street activity, connectivity, and other sometimes-hard-to-grasp-and-quantify features of a person’s physical experience in the public space of the city.
Technically, Civic Design Review (CDR) went into effect on August 22nd along with the rest of the zoning code, but as some of you may remember, CDR is only triggered in certain circumstances, when projects are of a certain size as compared to the affected properties around them. There are three tiers for CDR, outlined in great detail in 14-300, the chapter of the zoning code that deals with administration and procedures. There’s a chart of the three triggers, and a handy diagram detailing what constitutes an ‘affected property’ in CDR cases. We’d copy them here for you, but they really don’t make great visuals, so we encourage the curious to check them out on their own time.
A full press release discussing the CDR committee members is available on the city’s wordpress blog. Why only 6 of 7 announced, you may ask? Well, the 7th seat is intentionally left open for a representative of the local RCO. Whenever a project triggers CDR, a local RCO with boundaries that include the parcel in question are asked to appoint someone to sit on the CDR committee to provide the local perspective. In cases where multiple RCO’s include the area of a CDR project, the RCOs are still to decide on a single representative to sit on the committee. In cases where a decision can’t be reached or a local RCO does not exist, the district council person for that area is the designated appointee.
We’re excited to announce this step, one of many coming online slowly but surely to make the zoning code’s procedures the reality of how we do business in Philadelphia. We’re also excited to say that we’ve received the first submission of a project that triggers CDR review, so this group will get their feet wet very soon! Stay tuned, and leave questions in the comment section.
For today’s entry of planning terms that help populate our alphabet soup – we’re discussing NHLs. You might think we have some news on the lock-out, but, sorry, we’re planners. While you dream of the National Hockey League and Flyers glory, we want to introduce you to another NHL – the National Historic Landmark.
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, object or district that has national significance.
Any resource can be on the National Register of Historic Places if it has local, state or national significance. NHLs are “nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States” as described by the National Park Service.
Independence Hall, an obvious NHL. G. Widman for GPTMC.jpg
Today’s Wonky Wednesday describes a seldom used term we hope will grow in popularity over the coming years: Sidepath. A sidepath is a multi-use sidewalk/trail facility adjacent to a roadway. As you know from previous posts, bicycling on the sidewalk is illegal in Philadelphia unless you are under 12 years of age. On some busy roads, a cyclist must be brave and take the travel lane for safe passage. A sidepath allows some respite from traffic and a more leisurely ride, as well as a wider pedestrian area for dog walking, stroller-pushing, and roller blading.
A rendering of the 58th Street Greenway – now under construction. It’s the perfect sidepath illustration.
This week’s Wonky Wednesday is a true test of wonkitude. You’ve got to be really committed to the collection of nitty gritty to dig this one, but we’re going for it cause there’s some important themes to pull out and discuss based on this week’s topic: SEPTA’s Capital Budget.
We’re going to assume you don’t read many budgets in your day job, and do this Q&A style to really break it down.
Q: I’m obsessed with trains and come to all your meetings.
A: Yes, you transit aficionados are rarely shy with your feelings. Reminds us of that scene in the gym from the classic film, Mean Girls:
Q: Wow, i had no idea.
A: It’s ok. Feelings have to go somewhere. Why not direct them at transit agencies? This is why we feel it’s worth at least skimming through this very detail-heavy document: it might help adjust your expectations, and by extension, your feelings.
Q: I was expecting to see renderings of a redone City Hall Station, the top-secret engineering drawings for the waterfront line, and cost estimates for the anti-gravity units that will propel our trolleys of the future. Where’s all the cool stuff? READ MORE