I think the main reason that Darrell Clarke’s proposed zoning code changes seem to be popular with Philly City Council members, despite being universally unpopular among the city’s land use planners and urban policy commentariat is the Council district system.
Each member of Council has a narrow political interest in keeping their neighborhoods’ organized NIMBY busybodies happy and can’t prioritize doing what’s good for the whole city. Even though everybody probably recognizes that the circular firing squad of downzonings that characterized the old zoning regime was bad for the city’s investment climate on the whole, practical political considerations weigh against the depoliticization of building rights that would be better for the city.
As such, Michael Nutter is probably the only political actor able to take the right perspective and do what’s best for the whole city’s interests, and that’s why he should veto Council’s changes.
It may be that Council will have the votes for an override of the veto, but Mayor Nutter really needs to slow this thing down and draw wider media scrutiny to what Council is trying to do. This whole thing has been very rushed and sloppily conceived, and the question of the city’s best interests deserves more debate.