During its opening months, Mayor Jim Kenney's Historic Preservation Task Force established a collective understanding of the current state historic preservation in Philadelphia. So far it's heard from the public, and national and local experts. Come December, the task force will release its first report, distilling that status quo. This document will be the foundation for the task force's next phase: developing recommendations about how to improve the city's preservation ecosystem.

On Thursday, the still-growing group (now 33 members) spent the bulk of its November meeting reviewing a draft of this report. It offers an assessment of the city's present preservation regulations; historic resource surveys and designations; incentives for preservation; outreach and education; and the current capacity of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

Task force members offered broad feedback, from picky points about preservation policy, to broader thoughts about the tenor of the report and what pieces were missing or mischaracterized.

The draft report begins with a crack at reaffirming why preservation is important to Philadelphia today, and how it can help craft a more equitable, modern city that is still rooted in its heritage.

Matthew McClure, a land use lawyer at Ballard Spahr, had comments about nearly every section of the draft report. He took issue with elements in the draft that he found to have an activist tone, such as the statement that a comprehensive survey is important because a "lack of information forces historic preservationists to run in to stop the loss of a historic asset at the last moment."

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