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Miami Adopts Largest Known Form-Based Code

After four years of political wrangling, hundreds of public and internal meetings, several revisions, and one determined planning department, consultant team, and Mayor, the City of Miami made urban planning history tonight by adopting the largest known application of a form-based code. In doing so, Miami has catapulted itself to the forefront of those large American cities serious about implementing smart growth. 

Mike Lydon | October 22, 2009, 8pm PDT
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After four years of political wrangling, hundreds of public and internal meetings, several revisions, and one determined planning department, consultant team, and Mayor, the City of Miami made urban planning history tonight by adopting the largest known application of a form-based code. In doing so, Miami has catapulted itself to the forefront of those large American cities serious about implementing smart growth. 

To be sure, certain elements of the code remained controversial, such as a 35 foot height limit proposed--and adopted-- for a large stretch of the city's most important corridor, yet City Commissioners admirably managed to vote 4-1 in favor of officially replacing the city's outmoded use-base zoning code with a form-based code. Interestingly, Sandy Sorlien, a form-based code expert, also reports that the small town of Jamestown, Rhode Island adopted a form-based code this evening. 

While dozens of lessons may now be learned from the Miami 21 process, a few other large cities are already ready to ditch their own sprawl inducing codes for a more sustainable pattern of growth. Denver, for example, will likely adopt its own comprehensive form-based code in a matter of months. 

Miami 21 is not perfect, but its implementation will allow all practicing planners and advocates of form-based codes alike to study and learn from the successes and failures of Miami's process and eventual results. For that, I hope you can join me in congratulating the City of Miami (and Jamestown) for taking a bold step forward in pursuing a more sustainable 21st century American city. 

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