Philadelphia’s City Council has Focused on Legislation Related to the Local Real Estate Industry

By Jay Goldstein

Philadelphia’s City Council has focused on legislation related to the local real estate industry. Let’s look at two of these measures and how they might impact the development community.

  • As a result of increased construction in Philadelphia particularly by inexperienced builders, there has been more construction accidents and damage to adjacent properties caused by unsafe excavation work. City Council members approved a bill recently to protect near neighbors and help ensure that evacuation work be completed safely and responsibly. The bill includes:

    —  Excavation work must be done by qualified contractors.

    —  Neighboring property owners must be informed of the construction details and protective measures that will be implemented for a building project.

    —  Separate permits will be required for contractors who dig deeper than five feet and those applying must have evacuation licenses, plans, and pre-construction documentation performed by building professionals on the structural condition of adjacent buildings.

  • City Council also approved legislation to ask voters in the Fall to designate funding for affordable housing in Philadelphia. The City has an established Housing Trust Fund that helps provide housing for people with low incomes and people with disabilities. It also helps qualified residents with repairs, rent subsidies and mortgage assistance. The Fund has various income streams, but this legislation provides for automatic funding for the Fund equal to at least half of one percent of the City’s General Fund budget. It is unclear what, if any, additional assessment would be levied against development projects if this charter change were to pass. If voters approve this dedicated source of funding, the Fund will receive about $25 million.