SimCity-Style Interactive Map Seeks to Make Zoning Understandable

In an essay for Next City, Juan-Pablo Velez, member of the Chicago-based civic tech collective Open City, explains the rationale behind their latest project, which aims to make the city's zoning "digestible by humans."
February 8, 2013, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Utilizing Chicago's open data push, Open City "has built tools that show who’s lobbying city hall, whether the city has plowed your snow-covered street and how the city’s economy is doing." For its latest project, Second City Zoning, Velez and his colleagues "set out to make make [sic] zoning—one of the most important forces shaping cities, and yet one of the most impenetrable— digestible by humans."

The site is what Velez describes as a "SimCity-flavored interactive map of Chicago’s zoning districts," that "allows residents to answer the question, 'what can I build on this property?'”

"Punch in an address to discover how a building is zoned, and see a human-readable description (written by us!) of what that actually means," he explains. "On top of the map, we’ve also distilled much of the zoning ordinance into a beginner-friendly cheat sheet, so residents can dig into the particulars of their property’s land use and density rules."

"Besides looking up a specific property, you can also use the app to explore Chicago’s zoning patterns and learn why the city’s urban landscape looks the way it does."

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Published on Thursday, February 7, 2013 in Next City
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