Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
|Number of Counties||9|
|Area (approx.)||3,812 sq. mi.|
|Population ||5.39 Million (2000)
5.63 Million (2010)
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is the metropolitan planning organization for the Delaware Valley. Created in 1965 by an interstate compact, DVRPC is responsible for transportation and regional planning in the greater Philadelphia area.
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is dedicated to uniting the region’s elected officials, planning professionals, and the public with the common vision of making a great region even greater. Shaping the way we live, work, and play, DVRPC builds consensus on improving transportation, promoting smart growth, protecting the environment, and enhancing the economy. We serve a diverse region of nine counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Mercer in New Jersey. DVRPC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Greater Philadelphia Region - leading the way to a better future.
Who We Are
DVRPC plans for the growth and development of the bi-state region. We were created in 1965 under a compact between Pennsylvania and New Jersey; the legislatures worked together to define our structure, authority, purpose, and administrative procedures. Under federal laws requiring the formation of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for urban areas with a population of more than 50,000, DVRPC was subsequently designated as the MPO for the nine-county Greater Philadelphia/Delaware Valley region. An MPO is a regional entity responsible for transportation planning and approval of federal transportation funding for the region. While maintaining this traditional role, DVRPC also works in environmental and community planning, economic development, and serves as a resource for regional data. We facilitate special meetings, initiate new partnerships, and support local municipalities with outreach and assistance. To effectively use federal transportation dollars in each of the region’s nine counties, DVRPC works with a variety of local and regional entities. These groups include the Pennsylvania and New Jersey departments of transportation, community affairs and environmental protection agencies, the federal government, county and municipal officials, and regional transportation providers.
How We Are Funded
Financial support for our activities comes primarily from federal transportation funding through the Pennsylvania and New Jersey departments of transportation. Additional financial resources are provided by county, city, operating agencies, grants, and private sector funds.
How We Are Governed All activities are directed by an 18-member board which establishes regional policy, defines committee duties, and adopts the annual Work Program. A 10-member executive committee oversees general operations and fiscal matters. Planning and service functions are split among the Executive Office, the Planning Division, and Administration.
Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law ruling
Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ruling
On July 19, 2011, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) determined that DVRPC was covered under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) of 2008 and was therefore required to provide access to public records in its possession. DVRPC, in response to several requests for information from the Pennsylvania Transit Expansion Coalition (PA-TEC), had previously argued that it was exempt from the state law, as it was a multi-state agency that did not perform any essential function, despite being funded almost entirely by taxpayers. The OOR overruled DVRPC's assessment, stating that the RTKL eliminated the requirement than an entity perform an essential governmental function in order to be considered an agency. The OOR had further determined that members of PA-TEC, despite repeated attempts to obtain information from DVRPC, had not engaged in disruptive behavior, which the DVRPC stated had “a chilling effect” on citizen participation because they "involve e-mails exchanged with leaders of the RCC, who aren't employees of the commission." The OOR ordered the DVRPC to comply with PA-TEC's request and release all documents the group has requested; DVPRC initially waived its right to appeal the decision in Commonwealth court.
The ruling had serious consequences concerning the workings of the DVRPC. Documents produced by the DVRPC were presumed public, resulting in the commission only able to refuse the release documents under certain narrow exceptions spelled out in the RTKL. PlanPhilly.com called the decision "a landmark ruling."
Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruling
The DVRPC eventually appealed the ruling to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, who overturned the OOR decision on October 3, 2012 on the basis that the planning organization "is not a 'commonwealth agency' under the Law because it does not perform an essential governmental function."
Public Involvement at DVRPC
Since the 1970s, DVRPC has maintained a continuous forum for the public to participate in the regional planning process. This forum has taken various forms throughout the years to respond to the outreach needs of the public and the Commission. DVRPC's current ongoing forum for public involvement is the Public Participation Task Force (PPTF). The mission of the PPTF is to provide ongoing access to the regional planning and decision-making process, to review timely issues, to serve as a conduit for DVRPC information to organizations and communities across the region, and to assist the Commission in implementing public outreach strategies.
DVRPC believes that planning must be done with the involvement and for the benefit of all the region's residents. The Commission is guided by federal Title VI and environmental justice mandates, and the Commission strives to not only meet these mandates, but to create an overall transparent, inclusive planning process. DVRPC is committed to making Title VI and environmental justice a part of our planning process, integrated in all our programs and plans, and a guide for our public participation efforts. DVRPC’s Title VI and EJ work are outlined in DVRPC’s Title VI Compliance Plan, as well as Environmental Justice at DVRPC.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act states that "no person in the United States, shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." DVRPC is also guided by other nondiscrimination mandates, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice (EJ) mandates that all people must receive fair treatment and meaningful involvement regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, income, or education level in environmental decision-making. EJ programs promote the protection of human health and the environment, empowerment via public participation, and the dissemination of relevant information to inform and educate affected communities.
Diverse public involvement is a dynamic and ongoing process that is essential to meeting the future needs of all citizens in the Delaware Valley. No good government can be achieved without the consideration, cooperation and consent of citizens throughout this region.
Food System Plan
In February 2011, DVRPC unveiled "Eating Here: Greater Philadelphia’s Food System Plan" and announced $500,000 in implementation grants at an event at Reading Terminal Market. Attendees included over 100 regional policy makers, farmers, preservation experts, hunger advocates, and small business owners. The Plan is the result of a two-year collaborative effort to provide recommendations to increase the security and economic, social, and environmental benefits of the regional food system.
DVRPC also announced $500,000 in grants, made possible with funding from the William Penn Foundation. DVRPC Board Chair and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel presented "Plate of Distinction" Awards to seven local organizations already working to achieve the recommendations laid out in the plan. These organizations are:
- The Common Market
- Fair Food
- Greensgrow Farms
- Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA)
- Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)
- SHARE Food Programs
- Weavers Way Community Programs.
In April 2006, Barry Seymour was selected by the DVRPC Board as the new Executive Director, replacing John Coscia, who had been the Executive Director since 1982.
DVRPC currently employs approximately 115 full-time staff.
DVRPC produces a long range plan every five years. The current long range plan is titled Connections, the Long-Range Plan for a Sustainable Future.
- U.S. Census Bureau Total Population Count
- Campisi, Anthony (August 3, 2011). "Open records office: DVRPC covered under Right to Know Law". PlanPhilly.com.
- Jon Frey v. Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Docket No.: AP 2011-0709
- Paul Iverson v. Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Docket No.: AP 2011-0572
- John Scott v. Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Docket No.: AP 2011-0428
- DVRPC FY 2012 Work Program and budget
- "Team 4: Despite 'Right To Know' Law, Some Records Hard To Find". WTAE-TV (www.thepittsburghchannel.com). November 18, 2009.
- McDonald, Shannon (August 4, 2011). "Ruling puts Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission under Right to Know Law". PlanPhilly.com.
- Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission vs. John Scott, No. 1666 C.D. 2011, p. 12-13