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Understanding How City Rules Affect Urban Areas

In this excerpt from the new book, "City Rules: How Regulations Affect Urban Form," author Emily Talen outlines the ways in which zoning ordinances, building codes and other bureaucratic restrictions negatively affect urban areas.
June 26, 2012, 5am PDT | Tim Halbur
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Talen explains that the rules a city creates, such as zoning and building codes, reflect the values of the culture. "...but now," she writes "given the disconnect between rule and effect, it's hard to imagine that what people really want is sprawl, bad urban form, and monotony. This is certainly not what early city planners thought they were creating."

While Talen feels that rules like zoning are not of course inherently evil, she believes that they can quickly lead to unintended effects:

"Rules affect urban pattern and form in a myriad of large and small ways. A seemingly simple rule, such as the requirement that apartments must have a second means of egress, can affect building size and configuration, and ultimately how cities are experienced. A bay window may require approval from a public commission, with the result being that bay windows become a rarity. Maybe a certain density level triggers design review, resulting in lower densities."

Thanks to Nekoro Gomes

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Published on Monday, April 30, 2012 in City Limits
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