Is zoning reform a done deal?

    The city’s zoning code is a terrible mess — and the debate over how to change it is becoming just as messy.

    The code, which is a set of rules guiding development in the city, is more than 50 years old. This means we have a lot of outdated — and just plain weird — laws. For instance, you can’t manufacture fettuccine in some neighborhoods under the code, but making spaghetti is okay. More importantly, these laws have been a major stumbling block to bringing new business to Philadelphia.

    That’s why, in 2007, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that called on the city to rewrite the code. Ever since, the Zoning Code Commission has been trying to make a code that is sleek, contemporary and less political — and they’re almost done.

    Now, Council members are debating the new code, and could vote on it this fall. Or they could put it off, possibly for years, laying waste to the $1.9 million in taxpayer funds that went into rewriting it — as well as thousands of hours of work from the Zoning Code Commission and community members.

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    In this week’s It’s Our Money podcast, Holly Otterbein hosts a lively debate between Councilman Bill Green and zoning reform advocate Kiki Bolender (also a member of the Daily News People’s Editorial Board) — and tries to find out whether this new code stands a chance of passing this year.

    It’s Our Money is a joint project of the Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, that works to shed light on where your tax dollars are going.

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