Columbus Weighs Revisions to Outdated, Inequitable Zoning Code

The city is seeking ways to boost affordable housing development and encourage mixed-use, transit-oriented development.

2 minute read

April 5, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Randall Vermillion / Shutterstock

Renee Fox reports on the city of Columbus' efforts to reform their zoning code and redress historical injustices, make building easier, and encourage affordable housing development. "The city’s code was written in the 1950s when city planning tools to keep certain neighborhoods for white people with money were spreading like wildfire in cities like Columbus, [Glennon Sweeney, senior research associate at The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity] said."

According to the article, "The code isn’t just racist, the piecemeal maze also makes it complicated, time-consuming and costly to create the types of projects the city wants to see developed." Michael Stevens, the city’s director of development, is quoted as saying, "In its current form it is inadequate at facilitating affordable housing, protecting job centers and encouraging transit-supportive mixed-use corridors that are needed to help all of our residents thrive."

The city commissioned a study to outline the challenges posed by the outdated zoning code and recommendations for adapting it to modern needs. "Stevens said the city wants to encourage infill development, the type that occurs in places where development already existed, but existing code encourages development in areas previously untouched, creating sprawl."

As Fox writes, "The code is expected to take several years to rehaul, but planners are looking into addressing identified growth corridors sooner. The city is entering the second phase of the project where it will use a consultant to gather community input and start developing ideas for the new code."

Monday, April 4, 2022 in WOSU

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

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

Google street view of yellow "End Freeway 1/4 mile" sign on 90 freeway in Los Angeles, California.

Proposal Would Transform L.A.’s ‘Freeway to Nowhere’ Into Park, Housing

A never-completed freeway segment could see new life as a mixed-use development with housing, commercial space, and one of the county’s largest parks.

September 26, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Report: Bike Lanes Can't Make up for New Roads

If California wants to meet its climate goals, the state must stop funding its myriad road construction and expansion projects.

September 29 - Streetsblog California

Late evening view of downtown Minneapolis skyline with stone bridge in foreground

Minneapolis Affordable Housing Project Largest in 20 Years

The city opened its first large multifamily affordable housing complex in decades, but a recent court ruling against the Minneapolis 2040 rezoning plan could jeopardize future projects.

September 29 - Minnesota Public Radio

Close-up of vertical PARK sign on multistory urban parking garage.

NYC Mayor Proposes Eliminating Parking Minimums

Mayor Adams wants to stop requiring off-site parking for new buildings to reduce the costs of construction as part of the ‘City of Yes’ package of zoning reforms.

September 29 - StreetsBlog NYC

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.