Philadelphia’s adoption of a new zoning code is seen by local lawyers as a welcome transition to a less anachronistic, more development-friendly model that could help revitalize stagnant neighborhoods.

“You can write gold, but if you don’t enforce it, if you don’t do it properly, it’s meaningless,” Ballard Spahr zoning partner Matthew McClure said.

The need to redraft the code came into focus with the conflicts that arose over the building of casinos in the city, Mr. McClure said, and the goal was to get an easier-to-implement, more streamlined code. “I think that goal is paramount,” he said. “That being said, as a practical lawyer, I question whether anything ever can really get streamlined. It can get worse, but I don’t know if it can get better short of having better administration of the code because at the end of the day, land use decisions, what gets built and where … bring out the best and worst in people.”