A New Path to Code Reform

The Users’ Guide to Code Reform leads planners through the code reform process, providing tools for governments lacking the capacity to develop a full form-based code. Susan Henderson and Matt Lambert hit the high points.

2 minute read

February 6, 2019, 2:00 PM PST

By Hazel Borys

"The Project for Code Reform is one of the most important efforts we’ve had the privilege of contributing to in the last decade. We’ve spent most of our professional efforts crafting Form-Based Codes (FBC) for local governments, and while we still feel that is the zoning gold standard for placemaking, we realize FBCs are not accessible to many communities across North America for reasons of capacity—either staff or political. Increasingly, local governments want to align their zoning regulations with their goals for placemaking, incremental development, livability, and economic success. They realize conventional suburban standards have completely failed to solve for these issues; however, there are often gaps in political support, staff capacity, and budget to hire consultants for a major rewrite of their ordinances.

"When you consider the 42,000 units of local government in the US, and the vast majority with limited budgets and staff, the issue becomes how to deploy zoning reform broadly, with the least impact on capacity. While most current zoning-focused RFPs include form-based elements, and the spread of FBCs has accelerated, thousands of municipalities and counties continue to guide development with zoning that is antithetical to community goals. At present, analogous to tech start-ups, FBCs have a scaling problem: how can we accelerate the reform of existing codes by local governments in a politically and economically sensitive way?"

Henderson and Lambert go on to highlight alternatives, via their work with Project for Lean Urbanism's Lean Code Tool the Project for Code Reform's Users’ Guide to Zoning Reform.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 in PlaceShakers

Chicago Intercity Rail

Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects

Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.

September 25, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Interstate 205 bridge over Columbia River with Mt. Hood in background.

The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project

The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.

September 19, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

Google maps street view of San Francisco alleyway.

Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’

A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?

September 26, 2023 - Fast Company

Aerial view of coastal development and bright blue ocean in Kaua'i, Hawai'i.

Kaua’i County Uses Long-Range Models to Mandate Resiliency Standards

The county requires builders to assess potential flood risks using models that account for sea level rise projected as far out as 2100.

September 28 - Smart Cities Dive

Semi truck driving down freeway with twilight sky in background.

California Governor Vetoes Autonomous Truck Ban

Gov. Newsom called the new law unnecessary, citing existing efforts by state regulators to develop new rules around autonomous trucking.

September 28 - Wired

Roadside motel with turquoise room doors in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Low-Barrier Motel Shelter Is a Success—But Not an Easy One

Many guests at Motels4Now are on their second or third stays—but staff say that's doesn't equal failure, and the numbers bear that out.

September 28 - Shelterforce Magazine

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.