The BIA Government Affairs Committee (also known as the “FixItPhilly” coalition) tracks public policies and practices that impact the building industry at the national, state and local levels. Within Philadelphia, the Government Affairs Committee works closely with city agencies, elected officials, policy makers and community stakeholders to advocate for the issues that most affect the home building industry: removing barriers to investment and promoting a positive development climate in the city.
2018 Government Affairs Wrap-Up
This year Philadelphia City Council kept the BIA busy, as did our work with city departments. Below is an end-of-year report on our accomplishments for 2018.
The BIA successfully defended the tax abatement, preventing any proposed changes from even having a hearing.
Affordable Housing Update
Mayor Kenney and City Council agreed to an alternative to the proposed Construction Impact Tax to fund affordable housing in Philadelphia and Councilwoman Sanchez modified the Mixed Income Housing Program, Bill No. 170678 so that the inclusion of affordable housing is voluntary.
The BIA understands access to quality affordable housing remains an urgent need in Philadelphia and believes it is uniquely positioned to lead efforts by the private sector to help address this problem. We have formed an Affordable and Workforce Housing Committee to work with the city and partner organizations to develop a model program.
Private Water and Sewer Infrastructure
The BIA had Bill No. 180554 introduced to allow private water and sewer infrastructure to be constructed to serve units in planned communities and condominiums. City Council passed the bill in October and the BIA continues to work with PWD to establish criteria for private infrastructure that would be agreeable to both PWD and the development community. A draft document is currently being prepared by PWD for BIA review.
Paving Agreements and PECO Vaults
The BIA worked with the Streets Department to address issues members have been experiencing with paving agreements and PECO vaults. In response, Streets significantly raised the threshold for private paving to 9lots or 150 linear feet with a fee-in-lieu option and will amend the requirement for PENNDOT-approved contractors. PECO vault issues are expected to be resolved by extending areaway encroachments into the street line as far as may be required by the applicable utility provider.
The Plumbing Advisory Board (PAB) continues its work reviewing the 2018 IPC to make sure appropriate modifications are added to address local concerns, such as the single stack system and fixture counts. The use of plastic pipe will be expanded consistently with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Plumbers and the BIA. Once the PAB completes its work and votes to recommend a draft code, L+I will have an opportunity to review and make changes. PA Labor and Industry and the city's Law Department must then review the code with hearings by the state and city before City Council can vote to adopt what will become the new Philadelphia Plumbing Code. Until the new code is fully passed (the earliest expected date April 2019), the requirements of the current plumbing code are in effect.
BIA pushed for legislation to increase the size of allowable pilot houses and establish a "Pilot House Area," so that the pilot house location is not fixed by the zoning permit. As long as the pilot house is within the Pilot House Area, it can be moved around as needed until the building permit is obtained. Bill No. 180463 was passed by City Council in June.
Green Roof Density Bonus
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill the BIA requested to expand eligibility for the green roof density bonus to all buildings with a footprint above 5,000 square feet, regardless of whether they are new or existing buildings. Bill No. 180496 passed in June.
Legislation that proposed significantly increasing parking requirements was also prevented from having a hearing as a result of BIA efforts.
Wood Frame Construction
The BIA successfully defended the expanded use of wood framed residential construction in the new building codes against efforts by the Build With Strength Coalition to restrict its use.