Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Good morning, Council President. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak. I would like to read the Chestnut Hill Community Association's position on Bill 130699-A. I'd first like to acknowledge that Councilman O'Neill and Councilwoman Bass's offices have been willing to work with us to find a solution to our concerns, and I have just learned this morning that this bill is being held. So there is still opportunity for discussion, but I would like to share our concerns regardless.

The Chestnut Hill Community Association wishes to register its continuing opposition to Bill 130699-A, as amended on December 12th. While we appreciate the effort that has gone into trying to improve this bill since its first reading, the CHCA believes that the recent changes have had the unintended consequence of making the bill more ambiguous, difficult to enforce, and potentially disruptive to Philadelphia's many residential communities, not just Chestnut Hill.

We are particularly concerned about the changes to Subsection 14-803(b)(.1)(.a)(.iii) which has been amended to read, "Driveways may be located in required front, side, or rear yards. Parking of personal automobiles is permitted in such driveways."

This provision is contradictory on its face to the prior Subsection 14-1803(b)(.1)(.a)(.ii) which reads, "Surface parking spaces and detached garages and carports are prohibited in required front, side, and rear yards."

The conflict between these two subsections, the fact that Subsection 2 prohibits what Subsection 3 explicitly allows will, as we see it, have the effect of rendering both provisions unenforceable.

Beyond issues of enforceability, we see two essential problems with Subsection 3 as currently phrased. The first is that it is unlikely to solve one of the problems to which it is directed, which, as we understand it, is that many residents currently park their vehicles overlapping public sidewalks. Indeed given that Subsection 3 authorizes the by-right creation of additional driveway space in areas currently reserved for front yards, Subsection 3 might actually worsen the problem.

Second, we are concerned that by potentially giving over front yard areas to permanent resident parking, Subsection 3 will generate visual and perhaps physical blight and thereby have a potentially adverse effect on neighborhood attractiveness and property values.

We do appreciate that many Philadelphia neighborhoods lack sufficient on-street parking to accommodate residential demand and that there is a need for additional free off-street parking capacity. Our first preference is to continue to deal with this problem on a case-by-case basis through the traditional variance process. If City Council does not see fit to agree with this suggestion, we would request that individual neighborhoods and planning districts be given the local option of opting out of Subsection 3 as inappropriate to the particular neighborhood.

Thank you.

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