Zoning Code Reform for the Realities of COVID-19

Local governments have more tools than money to relieve some of the economic experience experienced by residents and businesses as the economic effects of the novel coronavirus linger just as long as the public health crisis it causes.

1 minute read

June 17, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Tada Images / Shutterstock

The zoning and planning consulting firm Code Studio has published a blog post that digs into one of the big questions facing planners and city officials throughout the coronavirus pandemic: "[W]hat can cities do through zoning (the land use controls on private property) to help businesses and the economy get back up and running as quickly and safely as possible?"

The prescription presented here has a common theme: local government should lift some of the stifling zoning restrictions common in U.S. cities today. The list of recommended actions follows, with more details provided in the source article:

  1. Allow temporary use of parking lots for outdoor dining/drinking.
  2. Allow pop-up retail/outdoor display.
  3. Relax temporary sign restrictions.
  4. Eliminate parking requirements – require spaces for bikes instead.

The list above might complicate public opinion about the purview of zoning codes in the United States, but perhaps in a year where patterns and behaviors have taken on a measure of simplicity in response to an unprecedented public health threat, zoning codes should be expected to adopt a new, long-sought measure of simplicity as well.

Related on Planetizen: How Zoning Reform Can Help Businesses Transition to Outdoor Operations (May 15, 2020)

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