Ways to Fail at Form-Based Codes 04: Don’t Capture the Character

Form-based codes extract the DNA of the desired local character, and enable it by right. Hazel Borys talks about how to get the numbers right in this week's Back of the Envelope.

1 minute read

May 17, 2013, 7:00 AM PDT

By Scott Doyon


"Continuing our series on ways to fail at form-based codes, today we examine failure to capture local character within the code’s basic metrics, or other number errors like wide fast streets near small setbacks. One of the sneakiest problems with a form-based code is getting the metrics wrong. While everything else about the code may look right, and even pass the test for FBCI Criteria, a hybrid-gone-wrong can originate with something as simple as street widths."

"It’s important to understand that 99% of the 480 form-based codes on the Codes Study are hybrids in the sense that the FBC covers a limited portion of the city, while the older Euclidean use-based code covers the remainder. This hybridization works just fine as long as those borders are clearly defined. However, when the typical use-based streets get mixed with form-based sidewalks and setbacks, accidents happen."

Borys goes on to talk in detail about FBC number errors, including street widths, private frontages, parking standards, frontage buildout minimums, and Floor Area Ratio. She also addresses capital investment sequencing and funding mechanisms.

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