Please go to our Zoning committee page here for our zoning committee calendar, current agenda and additional information about the zoning committee.

If you are applying for a zoning permit in Wash West or have questions about the process please email zoning@washwestcivic.org and we can assist you.

Following is a brief introduction to the zoning process as well as several useful links.


Zoning regulates physical development within the City. Zoning regulations govern land use, the height and bulk of buildings, population density, parking requirements, placement of signs, character of development on private property, and property uses.  All properties have a base zoning district which provides specific requirements or restrictions on allowed uses and physical characteristics.

If the owner of a property seeks to change the use or other regulation mentioned above, they must apply for a zoning permit.  If their proposed change is permitted by the zoning code (often referred to as being “of right”) then the applicant will receive a new zoning permit.

Fun Fact:

The name “Washington Square West” came into official use in the late 1950s and early 1960s as part of Edmund Bacons comprehensive plan for Center City.


If the proposed change is not permitted, the owner can either abandon the application or apply for a variance. Should the applicant seek a variance, they are required to present to Registered Community Organization (RCO) as part of the variance process.  The WSWCA serves as the RCO for projects in our community and our zoning committee meets the 4th Tuesday of every month. Please go to the zoning committee page here for additional information about our process.

Ordinance process

Sometimes, for larger projects or projects which would require several variances the property owner may work with the councilperson to enact legislation that will legalize their development.

Civic Design Review

Large projects are required to present to the RCO as part of the Civic Design Review process. The RCO will provide comments to the applicant on the proposed design which are not limited to zoning considerations but may also include discussion about the physical appearance of the building.  However, these comments are non-binding and the applicant does not need to respond to RCO concerns.

If you are applying for a zoning permit in Wash West or have questions about the process please email zoning@washwestcivic.org and we can assist you.

Following are useful links about zoning, building permits ang other agencies that may be useful for a property owner or community member:

Applying for permits

Property information

  • Get the history of permits, licenses, and inspections at any address
  • Research real estate information including property values, zoning, and document archives


Zoning Summary Generator

Find the by right zoning information for a specific property.


Property tax information


Codes and guidelines

The Philadelphia Code (go to section 14 for zoning)


The Philadelphia Zoning Code Quick Guide

An easy-to-understand version of the zoning code. Note: certain nuanced aspects of the code do not appear in the quick guide.


Complete Streets Design handbook:


City Agencies

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