Philadelphia, PA, Code of Ordinances

Updated October 2020


Table of Contents


Affordable Housing Programs

The city’s codified ordinances contain a chapter on inclusionary affordable housing (Chapter 7-100) and affordable housing preservation (Chapter 7-200). The inclusionary housing policy is mandatory for new or substantially renovated residential developments of 20 units or more, and the particular requirements are discussed in §7-104. To preserve existing affordable housing, the city requires notification of a developer or owner’s intent to take a protected action, including putting the property up for sale, at least 12 months in advance, in order to consider alternatives.

Design Review

The city's zoning code addresses civic design review (§14-304.5). The code specifies the composition of the Civic Design Review Committee. Tables list thresholds (size or number of dwelling units) that trigger civic design review. Review is advisory, but the Committee's recommendations may be considered by the zoning board and commission in discretionary reviews. The code describes the application and review process and lists criteria for review.

Solar Energy 

The cost of inverters or solar panels used in the installation of a solar system are exempt from construction cost fees (§4A-902.3).

Areas on roofs that include or are adjacent to rooftop PV and solar thermal equipment are exempt from reflectance requirements (§4B-1504.9).

The zoning code permits roof-mounted solar collectors as accessory structures in all zoning districts. Ground-mounted and freestanding solar collector are permitted as accessory structures in all zoning districts if they are located in the side or rear yard and comply with the following: a) in residential districts they can encroach into the required side yards that are at least 8 ft wide but are not within 2 feet of any side or rear lot line b)all other districts -- freestanding solar structures are permitted to encroach into side and rear yards, but not within 2 feet of a lot line. The height of ground-mounted and freestanding collectors and mounts cannot exceed 20 ft and in residential districts, the total surface area of ground-mounted and freestanding solar collectors may not exceed 1,000 sq ft (§14-604.7).

Urban Agriculture

The city's tax code addresses urban agriculture. It establishes an incentive of discounted stormwater rates and charges (up to 100%)  for community gardens operated by community or nonprofit organizations (§19-1603).

The city's zoning code establishes an "urban agricultural use" category, with subcategories of animal husbandry, community garden, market or community supported farm, and horticulture nurseries and greenhouses (§14-601-11). The code provides basic standards for these uses; sales are permitted (§14-603-15).

In residential districts, community gardens are permitted by right in all districts, and market or community-supported farms are special exceptions in RSD districts and permitted in the rest (Table 14-602-1). In commercial districts, community gardens are permitted by right in all districts, and market or community-supported farms are permitted by right in all but the center city core districts (Table 14-602-2). All urban ag uses are permitted by right in nearly all of the industrial districts except for the port district (Table 14-602-3).

No parking is required for market or community-supported farms in residential and commercial districts with lot areas of less than 5,000 SF; otherwise, 2 spaces are required (Table 14-802-1).

Philadelphia, PA

2010 Population: 1,526,006

2010 Population Density: 11,379.53/square mile