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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hays

Letter: Philly's Problems Are Montco's Problems

A day after World Press Freedom Day, we would like to share a letter-to-the-editor written by Towamencin Supervisor Kofi Osei (originally published in The Reporter).

I am not going to give an opinion on the sober living home situation in Towamencin until there is more legal clarity, possibly from the Supreme Court, but one of the common comments I have been seeing in Towamencin, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Providence, and anywhere there are substantive land use discussions is an unwillingness to contribute to regional issues.

It’s usually framed as “why should we bring Philadelphia’s problem here”? When you look at equivalent discussions in Philadelphia it is framed as “why should we bring the suburbs’ problems here”? This distinction between the suburbs and Philadelphia doesn’t make sense because we are in the same region. Southern California is having issues with water shortages, intense traffic congestion, high rates of homelessness, etc. If you look at their land use choices, you’ll realize that these things will come to your neighborhood whether you like it or not and it will be much worse if we don’t start actively accommodating them soon as a community.

Montco is a part of the Philadelphia Statistical Area, so from the 1000-foot view of the federal government, Montco and Philly are the same place. This also makes sense intuitively. I currently work in Philly and the jobs I’ve had in Montco have had coworkers that have commuted from Philly. Quite a bit of infrastructure like transit, water, wastewater, etc. are shared between Philly and suburban municipalities. If you walk around in any Montco town, you’ll find plenty of Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers gear. Montco can’t operate without Philly and vice versa. Since we drive each other’s economies, we also share responsibility to build regional resilience.

The Delaware Valley has historically been one of the biggest economic drivers of this country and has potential to become something greater. I think this potential would be squandered if we continue to close our eyes to some of the issues our neighbors may be facing. I’d also like to remind everyone that local control over land use is a privilege. Both the federal and state government are free to take away this control if they feel municipalities aren’t doing enough. I would invite my fellow locally elected officials and the public to take an honest stock of these regional issues and how much capacity our area has to accommodate.

Kofi Osei


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