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Fall 2018 Course Description

All classes include time for Q&A with presenters and an interactive group exercise at the end of the session. Download PDF of course description.  

Completing CPI makes you see the city, your neighborhood and your potential a little differently. Being around like-minded people gives you the drive to make a difference.

Kelly E. Wiles, Fall 2017

Core Session 1- Introduction to Planning              October 3, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

Unit 1: What is Planning? Everyone is a planner- in the sense that we all prepare for the future. Learn the tools and principles city planners use to assess current conditions, chart a future vision, and get things done. At a city planning level, you will learn about the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) and its staff, the role it plays, and how other city agencies work with it. You will get an overview of the citywide comprehensive vision- Philadelphia 2035 (adopted in 2011) and how citizens are involved in developing the 18 District Plans- the second phase of the plan. Learn how planning influences decision-making in the city, as recommendations in the District Plans are being implemented. 

Martine Decamp, Community Planner, Philadelphia City Planning Commission 

Unit 2: Neighborhood Planning on the Corridor
A plan is a written testimony of faith in a community. It begins with a “vision” that focuses on improving the quality of life for everyone who lives there. Amelia Price will share her victories and challenges as a commercial corridor manager in the Tioga community and contributor to the Tioga Goals & Strategies Report 2016. Called to Serve’s mission is to serve as an anchor for community renewal, and to support efforts that break intergenerational poverty, primarily in the Tioga neighborhood. Amelia has also completed the 21st Century SafeGrowth CPTED training (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design).

Amelia Price, Called to Serve CDC, Corridor Manager, Citizen Planner (2017)

Required readingIntroduction to Planning in Philadelphia handout sent prior to the first class. 

Core Session 2- Zoning                                      October 10, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

Unit 1: The Zoning Code.  
Understand the reasons why zoning has evolved as an important tool of planning. Zoning regulates land uses and the type, size, and height of buildings. Real projects will be used to demonstrate three methods of zoning “relief” from the zoning code:  variances, special exceptions, and zoning remapping. Gain a better understanding of how to navigate the code and what the steps are to learn what can be built on a lot and what approvals a project needs. Learn the limitations of zoning, as well as the elements in the zoning code that help preserve neighborhood character.

Donna J. Carney, CPI Director, PCPC
Andy Meloney, Senior Planner for Implementation, PCPC

Unit 2: Zoning & Citizen Involvement. The zoning code includes standards for citizen participation in the development process, including “RCOs”- Registered Community Organizations. Learn how a recent CPI grad rallied her neighbors and worked with her community civic group to influence development in her community.

Judy Walterson, member of West Powelton/Saunders Park RCO, Citizen Planner (Spring 2016)

Core Session 3- Development                                October 17, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

Community Design Collaborative Introduction:
No project gets built before a long process of design. Good design bridges the gap between community “vision” and getting it built! Learn about how your organization may be able to obtain pro bono design services delivered through the Collaborative’s process in this brief overview. The volunteers of the Collaborative partner with nonprofits to engage communities, put visions down on paper and advance to the next stage: gaining support, raising funds, and building projects.

Unit 1: The Development Process- the Private Side
Learn from an experienced, mission driven private developer who has renovated and restored more than 250 vacant, deteriorated commercial and residential units in the Philadelphia region during the past 28 years and currently owns and manages more than 700,000 square feet of space. You’ll learn the steps to get projects done and the financial constraints and other road blocks all developers face. The roles of various stakeholders impacting development will be discussed, in addition to tips on how to work with community developers to get the desired results for your community.

Ken Weinstein, President of Philly Office Retail, LLC, entrepreneur & real estate developer

Unit 2: The Development Process- the Non-Profit View.  
HACE has invested over $100 million to improve the quality of life for residents of the Fairhill and St Hugh Neighborhoods. HACE’s two-prong community development approach was developed with a focus on using the commercial corridor with its unique Latino cultural character as an anchor to rebuild the surrounding core neighborhoods. The second component of their model targets programs and resources to the residential area, adjacent to the commercial corridor, to increase homeownership rates, provide affordable rental housing, preserve existing housing stock, build wealth through savings and homeownership, and develop partnerships with other entities to provide services to our low-income community.  

Learn about how they incorporate Crime Prevention through Environmental Design and Safe Growth Strategies to address crime, increase civic engagement and attract investments. Their work in the creation of a trail along part of the Conrail viaduct in Fairhill is helping to connect this community Casa Indiana Senior Housing and green improvements along North American Street.

Maria Gonzalez, President, HACE CDC (Community Development Corporation)

  • 2018 spring cpi class masked background



Special Topic class topics change each semester. If you are selected to participate in the course, you must take at least 2 of the 3 electives to earn your Certificate. 
Special Topic #1- Philly Parks and You                            October 24, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

Philadelphia has one of the largest urban park systems in the country--with more than 140 recreation centers and facilities.  The Philadelphia Recreation Advisory Council (PRAC) is a network of locally engaged Recreation Advisory Councils who work on behalf of their community recreation centers.  Philadelphia Parks & Recreation works to balance the individual needs of the advisory councils while also creating goals and objectives for the citywide network. This effort requires the investment of not only the city, but also nonprofit organizations. 

The Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild) Initiative is a $500 million capital investment in Philadelphia's public spaces, including recreation centers, parks, and libraries.  It also represents an opportunity to rebuild the PRAC network and engage communities more broadly.  Participants will hear about the lessons learned during the process of rebuilding neighborhood networks that had been all but dormant for decades as well as about the public/private partnerships and investments required to make this happen.

The group activity will introduce participants to “participatory asset mapping”, which was used to help rebuild not only the citywide network, but to assess and prioritize the needs of individual advisory councils. Participants will develop their own community asset map to help guide their own community building processes.

Tiffany W. Thurman, Chief of Staff, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Citizen Planner 
Naomi Roberson Reid, Civic Engagement Manager, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Citizen Planner 

Special Topic #2:  Affordable Housing                        November 1, Thurs., 6:00-9:00pm

Unit 1: Making & keeping housing affordable
What is affordable housing? There are different ways to create housing that is affordable or keep existing housing affordable. Learn about City programs and tools that help accomplish this, and how you can bring them to your neighborhood:

  • The Division of Housing and Community Development will present on public housing, and City programs that provide free home repair and keep people who are behind on their mortgage from losing their homes.
  • The Department of Revenue will present on programs to help pay property taxes and to keep people who are behind on their property taxes from losing their homes.
  • The Division of Development Services will present on zoning for affordable housing.    

Melissa Long, Director of Programs, Division of Housing & Community Development
Department of Revenue (presenter to be announced)
Kevin Hunter, Senior Policy Analyst, Division of Development Services

Unit 2: Affordable rental housing
Renters are the first to get displaced when the cost of housing goes up. What affordable housing solutions are there for tenants? Learn about three approaches—Community Land Trusts, cooperative housing, and tenants’ rights—and how you can use them to help your neighborhood. 

Christi Clark, Organizing Director, Women's Community Revitalization Project
Pastor Richard Harris, Firm Hope Baptist Church, Citizen Planner
Andrew Ciampa, Tenant, Life Community Association Land Trust
Ariel Diliberto,Citizens Planning Institute Program Manager, Citizen Planner

Special Topic #3: Advocacy                                       November 7, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

Citizen Planners are great at getting things done in their neighborhoods! But sometimes they encounter a road block: the power to make the change they want is held by City Council, a large university, or the state government. For example, for a community to accomplish what it wants, a new law might need to be passed, or an existing law requires they receive approval from their City Councilperson. Advocacy means supporting or advancing a specific cause or policy.

Unit 1: People Power
Learn how two community-based, volunteer-run organizations have run campaigns to get elected officials’ attention and have their demands met.

The Philadelphia Tenants Union (PTU) is a tenant-led organization dedicated to winning safe, decent, and affordable housing for every renter. The PTU uses both grassroots direct action and campaigns for laws that protect tenants. Due to the PTU’s work, City Council introduced the Good Cause Bill, which would expand protections for renters in Philadelphia. Currently when a lease is up landlords can evict tenants without needing a reason. In 2017 over 20,000 people were evicted in Philadelphia. The Good Cause Bill would require landlords to have a good reason, aka “Good Cause”, to evict tenants.

Stadium Stompers is a movement of community members, Temple University students and faculty coming together to stop Temple's plan to build a stadium in North Philadelphia. They are opposed to the stadium because they expect it will create additional parking, traffic, crime, trash and noise problems in the surrounding community. For several years, Stadium Stompers has organized rallies, knocked on doors, collected petition signatures, and attracted media attention to get the word out and demonstrate their opposition. In September 2017, Temple University delayed their plans to build the stadium due to this opposition. In March 2018, Councilman Clarke stated he won’t support the stadium unless the community supports it.

Margaret Nersten, Deputy Campaign Director, Philadelphia Tenants Union
Jarrett Smith, Campaign Director, Philadelphia Tenants Union
Jacqueline Wiggins (Citizen Planner), Stadium Stompers
Ruth Birchett (Citizen Planner), Stadium Stompers

Unit 2: Advocacy Organizations

Some advocacy organizations have paid full-time staff. Two such organizations will present on how they successfully advocate for and with their constituents:

The Public Interest Law Center (PILC) uses lawsuits, education, advocacy, and organizing to advance the rights of Philadelphia-area communities facing discrimination, inequality, and poverty. CPI instructor Ebony Griffin supports low-income, historically disinvested communities and communities of color by advocating for sustainable and equitable neighborhoods. Her current work includes the Eastwick Advocacy and Community Development project, the Garden Justice Legal Initiative, and a recent lawsuit to preserve the La Finquita Community Farm.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) uses advocacy and education to make bicycling a safe and fun way to get around for anyone in Greater Philadelphia. They partner with community, governmental, public and private actors to make streets safer for everyone. BCGP’s successes include getting over 200 miles of bike lanes installed, inspiring one of the largest regional network of trails in the country, and bringing bike share (IndeGo) to Philadelphia. BCGP is supported by and works with its 2400 members.

Ebony Griffin, Staff Attorney for Environmental Justice, Public Interest Law Center
Randy LoBasso, Communications Manager, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Presentations & Pizza Workshop                                  
November 14, Wednesday, 6:00-9:00pm

Final Presentations
You give a 5-minute presentation on a project that you or your organization is working on--or a “wish” project-- to get feedback from your fellow CPI participants and professional city planners. This meets the final paper or presentation requirement. 

This is a low-stress way to get public speaking practice and have an networking opportunity with your classmates and professional city planners! Attendance is optional

  • 2017 spring happyhour 2
CPI Happy Hour!  September 26, 5:30-7:30pm 
(Location to be determined)

The Wednesday night prior to the first class of each new semester is a social networking happy hour where participants in the upcoming semester as well as past Citizen Planners meet each other and re-connect with old friends. It's a great way to be able to recognize friendly faces when you show up to the first class.

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