COUNCILMEMBER O’NEILL SUBMITS LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING COUNCIL APPEALS TO L & I DECISIONS ON ZONING OR PERMITS
City Councilmembers’ right to represent their constituents by taking legal action to appeal decisions of the Department of Licenses & Inspections on zoning or building permits is the subject of a Resolution introduced in Council this week.
The resolution, introduced by Councilmember Brian O’Neill (10th District) and co-sponsored by Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), spells out a legal process for Councilmembers to take when they seek to take action either in opposition to a decision by L & I on a development project in a neighborhood, or in support of L & I when the matter is headed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
The resolution “authorizing requests to the Law Department to represent City Council in appeals from decisions of the Department of Licenses and Inspections to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment or the License and Inspection Review Board and, if the Law Department declines to render such services to Council, authorizing the retention of outside counsel to provide such services.”
Appeals from decisions of L & I on developments in neighborhoods can be contentious, and district Councilmembers are often drawn into the neighborhood disputes, either pro- or con- in support of a development, and impacting decisions by the L & I agencies.
As the resolution states, “decisions of the Department of Licenses and Inspections can directly affect the legislative policy of City Council as expressed in the Zoning Code and in other duly enacted ordinances and resolutions. For that reason, Council wishes to be able to participate in appeals from L&I decisions, whether to appeal from L&I decisions contrary to the legislative policy of City Council, or to support the decisions of L&I that are consistent with the legislative policy of City Council.”
The resolution also notes, “Section 2-105 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter provides that “[i]n the event the Law Department declines to advise or render legal services to the Council in any matter . . . the Council may employ and fix the compensation of counsel of its own selection to handle such matter.”
Council will vote on Councilmember O’Neill’s resolution at a subsequent session of Council.
COUNCILMEMBER HARRITY OFFERS LEGISLATION EXPANDING ACCESS TO LIFE PARTNERSHIP PROTECTIONS UNDER CITY LAW, REGARDLESS OF GENDER
In one of his first legislative actions, At Large Councilmember Jim Harrity introduced a bill this week that would expand protections under the city’s existing Life Partnership ordinance to include the law’s protections to individuals regardless of gender.
The legislation seeks the removal of gendered language relating to same-sex and same-gender couples, and expanding access to protections under city law to individuals regardless of their gender.
Councilmember Harrity’s bill will be referred to the appropriate committee for a public hearing and subsequent action in Council.
CITY COUNCIL ACCEPTS A REPORT FROM PHILADELPHIA MUSIC INDUSTRY TASK FORCE
The Music Industry Task Force, an initiative led by Councilmember David Oh (At Large), has worked for several years, including through the pandemic, to examine the state of the growing music industry in Philadelphia, and recommend solutions to improve the climate for the industry.
Among the Task Force’s recommendations:
- Create a central Philadelphia Music Office or Commission to continue the work of the industry task force.
- Promote Philadelphia music in the city’s transportation hubs such as Philadelphia International Airport and 30th Street Station.
- Develop an awareness campaign for fair compensation for working musicians.
- Establish Performance Arts Loading Zones (temporary parking at concert venues so artists and groups can quickly load and unload their equipment without parking tickets)
- Identify funding sources for sustained, dedicated funding to help grow Philadelphia’s music economy.
The Task Force’s Report will be delivered to the Mayor’s Office, and considered further by City Council in the months ahead.
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COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE HONORS NORTH PHILLY ARMY CADET FOR HEROISM DURING INCIDENT OF GUN VIOLENCE
A resolution offered by Council President Clarke honored Kaheem Bailey-Taylor, a student at Philadelphia Military Academy, for his extraordinary actions that helped save the life of a friend who was victimized by gun violence.
Bailey-Taylor, a Strawberry Mansion resident, was leaving a party one night when shots rang out. Rather than fleeing, he headed back into harm’s way, knowing he had friends and family still at the party.
Three of his cousins and a friend were shot, the friend severely injured. Bailey-Taylor used his military school training, attempting to stop the bleeding with a hoodie, and used his fingers to stem the bleeding, remaining with his friend during transport to Temple Hospital, where he was stabilized. He’s expected to fully recover.
Bailey-Taylor received the Medal of Heroism, the Army’s highest honor for JTROC students, for his efforts.
IN OTHER NEWS
Councilmember Johnson Offers Resolutions Commending WURD on its 20th Anniversary, and in Memory of a Departed Council Colleague. Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) offered a pair of resolutions this week. The first resolution commended WURD Radio, the well-known, well-regarded Black-owned Talk Radio station in Philadelphia, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. WURD broadcasts City Council’s Stated Meetings live each week on 96.1 FM and 900AM.
Councilmember Johnson also asked for a moment of silence to honor the life and service of Christopher Sample, his longtime chief of staff, who passed away recently. Chris Sample was a beloved member of the Councilmember’s staff and broader City Council family, and he will be deeply missed.
OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK
The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia City Hall, Room 400 and will air on Xfinity Ch. 64, Fios Channel 40 and stream at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch.