The Necessary Annoyance of Community Meetings

Wake up, people! The neighborhood is changing — time to speak up or else we’ll wind up stuck in someone else’s East Falls. Updates for two important meetings coming up: East Falls Forward (a new RCO) this Thursday, and the Community Council’s zoning meeting has been rescheduled for September.  Getting involved has never been easier, or more important.

But let’s make one thing abundantly clear:  we hate meetings! Hate them. HATE!

But we go.  Not because we’re masochists but because, for reals, guys:  stuff is happening here. East Falls is heading into a time of growth, and decisions are being made. With or without our input, our streetscape is changing right out from under us. Seems ridiculously passive to just sit back & let things happen. Especially when there are so many opportunities to get involved.

We are honestly excited about this coming year, with two RCO’s chiming in on planning & development — hopefully creating new avenues to encourage more business, more enterprise. The EFCC’s got some fresh new faces (including our favorite local novelist!), and already we’ve seen signs that perhaps a detente is brewing after many months of chilly avoidance.

Case in point:  this update on the East Falls Community Council’s next Zoning & Land Use meeting. Originally scheduled for this Wednesday, it’s now happening Wednesday September 9th — according to EFCC prez Bill Epstein, who emailed us himself. We agree it’s important info to share, please note:


The Wednesday, Aug. 19th meeting of the East Falls Community Council’s Zoning and Land Use Committee has been cancelled and rescheduled for 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 9.

The meeting will take place in the Auditorium of Downs Hall on the campus of Philadelphia University.   William Epstein, Chair of the Committee, said Sept. 9th will be a special meeting to begin discussion of the University’s new plan for an institutional zoning district under the City of Philadelphia’s zoning code. The University had proposed a 30-year plan last November, but later withdrew the plan and proposed a new one in mid-August.

The plan can be viewed at:

Downs Hall can be reached by car via a driveway on School House Lane opposite the Independence Plaza Apartments, between Netherfield Rd. and Cherry Ln.

The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Zoning Committee will take place one week later at 7 pm Wed., Sept. 16, also in Downs Hall. The schedule will include: consideration of an application from the owner of 4024 Timber Ln. to build an accessory structure larger than permitted by the zoning code; an application from the owners of 3511 and 3513 Conrad St. to convert the two single-family properties into two two-family properties; and interviews with residents interested in soon-to-open seats on the committee.

East Falls residents who cannot make either meeting can submit comments and questions to      

In other “Important Meeting” news, East Falls Forward‘s very first official meeting as an RCO is going down this Thursday night from 6:30 – 7:30 pm — mercifully short as far as community meetings go. These officers are serious about sticking to the one-hour format, they’ve got at time-keeper and everything.

Also, the big point East Falls Forward would like to drive home is that meetings are not the preferred method of discussion & process for this group. “Meetings just move too slow for real progress these days, but no one has the time to meet more than once a month — at most,”  VP Juliet Geldi has lamented to us many times. The East Falls Forward forum was created to allow people to join online “working groups” (similar to message boards) for inclusive, transparent and on-going dialog.

Members of East Falls Forward are hoping for more voices — for all of East Falls, if possible. The forum is free, and so is joining this Registered Neighborhood Organization that supports sustainable growth for East Falls.

Whining is all well & good but it’s kinda fun to do stuff too. Our neighborhood needs us — all of us, or we’ll miss key opportunities, and wind up a cheap parking lot for commuters in half-million dollar condos. The issues facing us aren’t anything that other neighborhoods haven’t seen before, and worked through. We can do this.

A funny thing we’ve learned this last year talking to businesses & going to community meetings — a thoughtful opinion is like a little gift, to both these groups:  they both just want to please their demo. If you love East Falls, if you enjoy living here and being a part of this community, maybe think about sharing the love? Fill out a survey, join a forum, sign up for a committee — or just go to meetings, take pictures and post snarky commentaries. That’s a good time, & helpful in it’s own way.

Or just go to catch up on your z’s.  Don’t worry, if anything interesting happens, my camera’s clicking will wake you up.


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