Formers versus zoners; how and why communities shift to form-based zoning

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Faga, Barbara
Ross, Catherine L.
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City design has long been recognized as predicated on power. Planners have the power to regulate the use and form of privately owned land—an enormous task. Zoning is the foundation of city planning. The caliber of cities' future development hinges on zoning. Over the last fifteen years, communities have been divesting themselves of their historic Euclidean zoning in favor of the newer concept of form-based code. However, changing an entire zoning code is an immense project that requires a massive investment of motivation, time, perseverance and money. Does changing code provide an answer to undesirable consequences of Euclidean zoning, or are the claims of form-based code advocates correct and their code the panacea for everything wrong with planning and development? This is a sweeping question and one that is asked in hundreds of planning offices by planners, urban designers, politicians and their communities. The primary question is why and how communities change from conventional Euclidean zoning to form-based code. This research examines the state of practice and the impact of form-based code on zoning. Issues critical to an examination of the theory and practice aspects of this investigation includes key questions: What motivates change? What difference does it make? Who are the primary motivators for change? What is the comparative analysis and the basis for change and the impact of form-based code? Two protocols, including online surveys of planning practitioners and case studies of Cincinnati, Denver and Miami, are used to investigate the intended, and often unintended, outcomes and consequences that emerge with a zoning change within an established community.
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