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Speaker Spotlight: Kenney discusses Philadelphia's development challenges

Democratic Mayoral Nominee Jim Kenney visited the Development Workshop's October meeting to discuss what he thinks the most vital development challenges facing Philadelphia are, and how he would address them as Mayor.

Kenney said that he wants to work with Council to expand the size of the Zoning Board so the body can work faster and more efficiently. With a more efficient approval process by the City, contractors wouldn't have to wait as long to get to work. To do this he would consider a Charter change to expand the Zoning Board to 9 or 10 members who would either rotate or serve on two different boards to ensure that a quorum is more frequently present.

Additionally, he plans to remove the deputy mayor system in favor of a stronger, centralized managing director position. Kenney shared that be believes the Law Department should become the “department of possibilities,” with more active problem solving. He would also seek to overhaul L&I, clarifying the distinction between permitting and demolition/safety issues and taking steps to improve the customer service experience.

In addition to systemic issues, Kenney also addressed development issues facing everyday Philadelphians. If elected, he said he plans to mandate sidewalk sheds for construction that encroaches on public streets, keeping sidewalks open during development. He also plans to re-institute brooms and shovels on trash trucks.

To improve the City’s economic development, Kenney stated that he would seek Pre-K for all three- to four-year-olds by the end of his first term; expand the port; explore ways to make Philadelphia an energy hub with additional natural gas pipeline connections; and encourage greater public-private partnerships with PGW. He also discussed the challenges with Philadelphia’s homeless population, including the positive efforts of non-profit groups and the legal constraints on homelessness policies.

The Development Workshop appreciates Kenney’s visit to discuss the challenges facing development in Philadelphia. Kenney will face off against Republican Mayoral nominee, Melissa Murray Bailey, two Independents and a member of the Socialist Workers Party on November 3rd.

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