Jan 23: Code Blue | O’Neill to drop garden zoning restrictions, keep other roll-backs | redevelopment in Chinatown | City spending infographic | Philly: if not hip, interesting

Good morning. Holy frozen fingers, Streeters. Here’s your Wednesday morning Buzz:

Because temperatures will dip below 20° most days this week the city has issued a Code Blue, and outreach workers are extending their hours to encourage homeless individuals to go into a shelter on these bitterly cold nights, the Daily News reports. Stay warm if you can and show some compassion to those out on the streets: To direct outreach workers to help homeless folks you spot outside during these cruel, cold days, you can call the Office of Supportive Housing at (215) 232-1984. 

When City Council returns for its first full legislative session of 2013 on Thursday, Councilman Brian O’Neill’s controversial zoning bill to restrict more uses in neighborhood commercial corridors will be missing one of its more contentious provisions. Bowing to pressure from garden advocates Councilman O’Neill will remove a provision which would have made urban gardens and market farms “special exceptions” in areas zoned CMX-2 and CMX-2.5 instead of by-right uses, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. Despite the win for urban agriculture advocates, O’Neill’s bill will still roll back progress achieved under the new zoning code. Perhaps the most troubling is a provision that Jared explains will restrict residential uses above some commercial storefronts, which would dilute density in mixed-use districts.

Is Chinatown slowly getting a facelift? Naked Philly writes about a two buildings on North 11th Street being renovated. Perhaps more interesting is the assertion that there is a slow and steady “new momentum for development” in Chinatown.

Wondering how the city spends all of our taxes? Brett Mandel, candidate for City Controller, has devoted a section of his website to breaking down the city’s budget – every last penny of it, reports the Daily News. Click around the FY2012 budget at budget.brettmandel.com.

The City will mail Philly property owners the new assessments in mid-February, the first step in rolling out the city’s property-tax reform effort this year. Because City Council has not yet set the tax rate, property owners will not really how much they will be paying in taxes. The Daily News reports that the February 15 mailing “will specify is how to appeal the new valuations to the Office of Property Assessment for those who feel the city overshot on them. The deadline is March 31. If, upon hearing back from OPA, you’re still unhappy with the decision, you can appeal by October to the city Board of Revision of Taxes. Beyond that, residents will have to take the city to court to get their assessments changed.”

Philadelphia might not have the hipster cred of Portland, but it’s more interesting, Karen Heller explains why in her Inquirer column today. 

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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