The City Planning Commission is responsible for guiding the orderly growth and development of the City of Philadelphia.
The 1951 Home Rule Charter defines the powers and duties of the Commission to include the preparation of:
The Home Rule Charter specifies that the City Planning Commission be composed of nine members. In addition to the Managing Director, Director of Finance, and Director of Commerce, who serve as ex-officio members, the Mayor appoints six individuals to serve on the Commission. Of the six appointed members, one must be an architect, one must be an urban planner, one must be a traffic engineer, one must be an attorney experienced in land-use issues, and two must be representatives of Philadelphia community groups that participate in land-use issues.
The Commission elects its own chairperson and employs a full-time executive director and civil-service staff. The staff consists of planners, architects, and urban designers supported by geographic information system, administrative, and clerical personnel. The executive director and agency staff provide the Commission with a comprehensive overview on an increasingly wide range of planning issues.
While the overall mission of the City Planning Commission has remained substantially the same for more than five decades, the specific functions of the agency have expanded dramatically in response to changing demands. Not only have the number of functions increased, but the nature of many of these activities has changed as well.
During this period, the role of city government has broadened to include a wider range of public concerns, and the nature of city planning as an activity of local government has continued to evolve. The narrow emphasis on land-use controls, facilities planning, and physical planning specified by the Home Rule Charter has become greatly enlarged by an equal emphasis on non-physical development issues such as economic development, human services delivery, healthy living, and housing policy. In addition, new importance has been given to physical development as a result of environmental concerns, interest in historic preservation, the increasing complexity and magnitude of development proposals, and the special emphasis placed on humanizing the scale of the city through urban design.