Councilman Johnson Ignores Zoning Process
Philadelphia - Yesterday, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson was featured on WURD radio as the "Council Member of the Week." In that role Councilman Johnson is supposed to inform the public on City Council's actions-of-the-day. But in this interview, Councilman Johnson noticeably failed to mention one matter of his own doing.
Councilman Johnson has introduced two ordinances to permit the demolition and spot zoning of the historic Royal Theater and neighborhood icon Little Pete's diner without the developers going through the appropriate legal process. This is contrary to good governance.
The developers behind these projects have been significant donors to Councilman Johnson's campaign in the past, begging the question of whether they are receiving preferential treatment as a result.
Ori Feibush, Democratic candidate for City Council in Philadelphia's 2nd District, took issue with what appears on its face to be a "pay-to-play system" when it comes to development projects.
"It's objectively unfair," said Feibush, "that these developers will get approval for their projects through an ordinance of City Council, while every other person goes through a community process and then presents to the Zoning Board of Adjustments.
"It has often been asked of me if being a developer on City Council is a conflict. For me, the answer is easy. No. It is not the role of a councilman to play judge and jury for every parcel of land; rather they must work with the community to define a clear vision and plan for economic development. A more inclusive and transparent path would be to accelerate neighborhood dialogue to appropriately remap the neighborhoods in the 2nd District.
"When Councilman Johnson makes exceptions for his friends, it is a slap in the face to neighbors, community groups, the Planning Commission, the Zoning Code Commission, and other developers who are compelled to follow the rules. It is obvious that his moral compass is broken and that the 2nd District needs new leadership," Feibush concluded.
The Feibush Campaign called on Councilman Johnson to return the tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the developers in question.