Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
What If Zoning Codes Were Dynamic?
According to Braga, existing zoning codes are too static to respond to population growth and demographic changes and the obstacles to change are too daunting when faced with the political power of entrenched interests. Dynamic zoning responds to those challenges, according to Braga:
Yet, consider if zoning ordinances became dynamic laws that responded actively to demographic indicators. What if certain neighborhoods or zoning districts could upzone automatically (or at least systematically) if certain conditions were met? Let’s tentatively call this mechanism Dynamic Zoning, an incremental and data-responsive approach to regulating real estate development that facilitates organic urban growth.
Braga even presents a hypothetical city's zoning map, with a Form-Based Code already in place, and draws out an illustrative experiment with the dynamic zoning model. Braga's conclusion: "cities that adopt Dynamic Zoning ordinances for selected districts can appease the desires of so-called 'homevoter' constituents (that is, property owners who want to preserve their property values and who participate in local elections), long-term renters who will appreciate a more gradual rather than sudden increase in property values, and real estate developers who are less likely to face speculative prices if upzoning becomes more systematic and predictable.