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City of Philadelphia

The Role of the Commission

The mission of the City Planning Commission is to guide the orderly growth and development of the City of Philadelphia.

The 1951 Home Rule Charter defines the powers and duties of the Commission. These include the preparation of:
  • A Comprehensive Plan, showing the present and planned physical development of the City;
  • A recommended Capital Program for the next six fiscal years, and a recommended Capital Budget for the next fiscal year;
  • Proposed zoning ordinances, maps, and amendments;
  • Approval of plans for streets and regulations governing the subdivision of land;
  • Recommendations to the Mayor and City Council concerning the acquisition or disposition of real estate.
The City Planning Commission is composed of nine members. In addition to the City’s Managing Director, Director of Finance, and Director of Commerce, who serve as ex-officio members, the Mayor appoints six other members. These six appointees must include an architect, an urban planner, a traffic engineer, and an attorney experienced in land-use issues. Two members must be representatives of Philadelphia community groups that participate in land-use issues.

The Commission elects a chairperson, and employs a full-time Executive Director and a civil-service staff consisting of planners, architects, and urban designers supported by geographic information system and administrative personnel. The Executive Director and staff provide the Commission with a comprehensive overview on an increasingly wide range of planning issues.

The Commission also addresses issues of community and economic development, public health and environmental sustainability, and multi-modal transportation policy. Particular emphasis is placed on humanizing the scale of the city through urban design. The Commission also operates the Citizens Planning Institute (CPI), the agency’s education and civic engagement arm, to more actively involve citizens in the planning and development process.

Advising the Commission on urban design issues is the Civic Design Review (CDR) Committee. Established by Zoning Code Section 14-304(5), it is responsible for reviewing larger-scale development proposals and making recommendations to the City Planning Commission. The CDR Committee is chaired by a Commission member, and composed of five mayoral appointees. These appointees must include two licensed architects, an urban designer, a developer or builder, and representative of a community group involved in land use issues. The CDR Committee may also seat community representatives from the vicinity of a project being reviewed.


Planning Division
The Planning Division is responsible for all aspects of preparing and updating the City’s Philadelphia2035 Comprehensive Plan, including civic outreach. The division develops district, neighborhood, and redevelopment area plans, and conducts planning studies relating to physical development issues.

Development Planning Division
The Development Planning Division reviews site plans for compliance with the zoning code, land subdivision requirements, environmental regulations, and other City and State development controls.

Urban Design Division
The Urban Design Division focuses on the improvement of the City's public realm through physical design and streetscape initiatives. The division supports the work of the Planning and Development Divisions, as well as the CDR Committee, and performs zoning code-based building design review.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Division
The GIS Division creates, maintains, and develops visual displays of data used for planning studies and analysis undertaken by the Commission.

Office of the Deputy Planning Director
This office deals with citywide policy issues and planning opportunities in the areas of housing and demographics, transportation, economic development, planning for healthy communities, as well as prepares the City’s annual Capital Program and Budget.

 Executive Staff