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Spring 2021 Course Description

Spring 2021 session will be held online on Zoom. 
Application period will be Feb 24- March 19, 2021. 

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.

Orientation Class                                                                                        April 7, Wed., 6:00-7:30pm

Congratulations! You've been selected to join the Spring 2021 Cohort, making you one of 630 Citizen Planners in Philadelphia! In this required orientation session you'll get to know fellow classmates, learn about the selection process, and review logistics. You'll receive course materials and get a jumpstart on your final project or presentation. 

Core Session 1- Introduction to City Planning                                       April 14, Wed., 6:00-8:00pm

Unit 1: Neighborhood Planning Learn about the history and evolution of planning in Philadelphia and how you can be involved in your neighborhood’s plan. A neighborhood plan emerges from a planning process that both engages all stakeholders in the community and reflects a collective vision for the future of that community. Your “Neighborhood Planning Workbook” outlines a DIY approach to doing a neighborhood plan. Another approach is to employ the services of a professional planning firm. Learn about methods of community engagement from a nationally recognized local firm and their experiences working on various Philadelphia neighborhood plans.

Unit 2: Positive change starts with a plan. How do Philadelphia’s city planners try to make sure that change is ‘positive’ for everyone? Learn about the role and relationships city planners have with city agencies that have budgets and how they try to balance many conflicting interests in the community, and citywide. We’ll use a real-life project to give you practice in wearing different stakeholder hats! 

Mindy Watts, Principal, Interface Studio LLC
Nicole Ozdemir, Senior Planner, Philadelphia City Planning Commission (and other staff)

Core Session 2- Zoning                                                                           April 21, Wed., 6:00-8:00pm

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
Ian Hegarty, AICP, Community Planner, Legislative Team, PCPC

Unit 2: Citizen Involvement.  Learn about one RCO’s (Registered Community Organization) ‘protocols’ in reviewing zoning cases, and how multiple RCOs collaborate with each other before going to the ZBA (Zoning Board of Adjustment). Brewerytown Sharswood Civic Association is also a NAC, (Neighborhood Advisory Committee) which helps residents learn about city programs that can benefit them.

Darnetta Arce, Executive Director, Brewerytown Sharswood Community Civic Assoc., Citizen Planner

Core Session 3- Real Estate Development                                                     April 28, Wed., 6:00-8:00pm
Understanding & Influencing the Project Cycle

How do real estate developers make decisions and complete projects?  Learn about the phases in the real estate development cycle – pre-development, construction, operations, disposition/re-position.  Understand how community input influences project progression and the best time to engage developers.  Learn about the different approaches taken by market-rate and affordable housing developers.

John’s office is a first point of contact for large developers and will outline the steps to get projects built and the financial constraints all developers face. Angela brings the perspective of affordable housing development. The roles of various stakeholders impacting development will be discussed through a hypothetical housing development project.

The Philadelphia Association of CDCs (PACDC) is a membership association that works to create an equitable city. Kim will answer your questions about CDCs and talk about “Destination Frankford”, a project stimulated by the District planning process. It led to the transformation of a vacant lot into the Frankford Pause Park and the redevelopment of the Daral Building into a community hub. Under Kim’s leadership, the Frankford CDC has become a valuable advocate for the businesses and citizens of Frankford. Kim received the PACDC’s 2016 Rising Star award for her work in Frankford.  

John Mondlak, Deputy Director of Development Services, Office of Planning and Development
Angela Steele, Senior Project Manager, Stone Sherick Consulting Group, Citizen Planner
Kimberly Washington, Esq, Executive Director, Frankford CDC 

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Special Topic classes change every semester. On the application form, you will need to select and attend a minimum of TWO to earn your Citizen Planner Certificate!
Special Topic #1- Historic and Cultural Resources                   May 5, Wed., 6:00-8:00pm

What do you love most about your neighborhood? Do you think about local landmarks—like buildings, stories, or parks?---or do certain neighborhood traditions, events, or people come to mind? What do you want to protect and pass on to future generations?

This class will introduce you to the work of the Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC), including what it means when a property is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The class will also discuss the many ways that preservation occurs throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods without the involvement of the PHC, such as street festivals and parades, and celebrations of food, music, dance, and art, to name a few. Hear about a grassroots effort to preserve the Dox Thrash House, the former home of a prominent Black artist and printmaker in Sharswood. The Thrash House has the potential to set a precedent for how to creatively preserve Black history by transforming a neglected property into a community-centered hub of arts.

During group exercises, you can contribute to a broader definition of ‘preservation’ by identifying your neighborhood’s traditions, history, and landmarks.  You will also get the opportunity to provide feedback on an upcoming city-wide survey that will focus on this expanded view of preservation. We need to hear from you!

Megan Schmitt, Preservation Planner, Philadelphia Historical Commission
Shannon Garrison, Preservation Planner, Philadelphia Historical Commission
Maya Thomas, Dox Thrash House Project
Lynn Mandarano, PhD, Associate Professor, Planning & Community Development, Dept of Architecture & Environmental Design, Tyler School of Art & Architecture, Temple University

Special Topic #2: Broad Germantown and Erie                         May 12, Wed.6:00-8:00pm

The Broad Germantown & Erie Task Force is a unique joint effort between city departments and neighborhood organizations. Its goals are to make the intersection safer for pedestrians, create jobs & support businesses, improve and create new public spaces, and honor local history and culture.

The complex issues at this location illustrate why the success of one solution is dependent on how other problems are solved. The many pieces of this project show why good solutions can take a long time.

You will walk away with insights about how city agencies work together and how they work with community stakeholders. We’ll break into teams to talk about how the design of public spaces can serve the many needs of the community. Share how you think communities can have power in design decisions. 

Ariel Diliberto, City Planner II, Philadelphia City Planning Commission
Andrew Simpson, Transit Policy Planner, Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS)
Jeffrey Harley / Amelia Price, Called to Serve CDC, Citizen Planners
Javier Mojica, Business Services Manager, Office of Business Services, Dept of Commerce 

Special Topic #3: Reducing Risk in Philadelphia                                  May 19, Wed., 6:00-8:00pm

What hazards keep you up at night? Whether it is rising temperatures, flooding, or pandemic, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) wants to know what hazards make you worry.

In this class, you will learn about Philadelphia’s Hazard Mitigation Plan from the Office of Emergency Management. This plan looks at ways the City can reduce risks caused by nature or by humans. Participants will break into teams and use a game-based exercise to look at how to protect community assets from hazards. Finally, you will learn how to reduce risk in your neighborhood and help neighbors bounce back after disaster.  Your feedback in this class will help them as they update the City’s Hazard Mitigation Plan for 2022

Emma Giardina, Hazard Planning Coordinator, Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
Olivia Gillison, Community Preparedness Program Manager, OEM

Presentations Workshop (optional)                                  
May 26, Wednesday, 6:00-?pm

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

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CPI Happy Hour! Hope to reboot these soon!
Locations change

The Wednesday night prior to the first class of each new semester has been 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.

Find out when to apply

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