ADVOCACY UPDATE: Fully Fund the Historical Commission
On April 15, Mayor Jim Kenney will deliver his budget address for the 2022 fiscal year that begins on July 1st. We call on the Mayor and Philadelphia City Council to devote additional resources to the Philadelphia Historical Commission so they can better carry out their mission to preserve the city’s historic buildings and neighborhoods.
As Mayor Kenney’s Historic Preservation Task Force of 2017-19 found, Philadelphia lags peer American cities in the extent of historic protections. Fewer than 3% of all properties are listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places – half the average of the nation’s 50 largest cities. In addition, Philadelphia lacks a citywide inventory of historic resources, a valuable tool that other cities such as Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles completed long ago.
Meanwhile, the city’s Historical Commission, one of the oldest in the nation (founded 1955), has struggled perennially with staffing levels that are barely adequate to oversee the Philadelphia Register, let alone to be proactive in identifying and protecting vulnerable historic resources. Currently at only seven full-time equivalents (FTEs), the Historical Commission staffing cohort is smaller than peer cities, on both an absolute and per capita basis.
One glaring shortcoming that the Commission’s perennial understaffing has created is an inability to respond to the imperative to identify and protect historic sites that are important to our city’s communities of color. Moreover, the Commission has a growing backlog of historic district nominations awaiting its review, including Automobile Row, Central Mt. Airy, French Village and Jewelers’ Row – with many more historic district nominations for neighborhoods throughout the city now in the process of being drafted.
The Preservation Alliance urges the Mayor and Philadelphia City Council to strengthen the Philadelphia Historical Commission in the 2022 City operating budget, by significantly supplementing its staffing level with multiple additional FTEs so the agency is better equipped to meet our historic city’s preservation challenges now and in the years to come.
Please call or write the Mayor to urge him to fully fund the Historical Commission in the new city operating budget:
Office of the Mayor
City Hall, Office 215
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 686-2181
April Preservation To-Do List
Welcome the Spring with a mix of activities both virtual and in person. This month enjoy tours of historic sites around Philadelphia, volunteer for some spring cleaning activities, and listen to engaging speakers online.
Click here to view more preservation-related events around town this month.
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Your support is vital to ensure that the Preservation Alliance can promote the appreciation, protection, appropriate use, and development of our region’s historic buildings, communities, and landscapes.