Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everybody Must Get Zoned (in Denver)

We've blogged before about land use legal developments in Denver, particularly about its movement toward a comprehensive reform of its zoning code to a form-based code along the lines of what Miami 21 is doing.  The proposed new ordinance is online here.  Now in the Denver Westword (which appears to be a local alternative weekly) we have this commentary: Everybody must get zoned: Kenny Be looks at Denver's new zoning rules.

The new zoning code is now online and awaits your review. With building restrictions across the city that are all new! The revamped code guarantees that you won't suffer alone, because everybody must get zoned.

The new context-based zoning code completely transforms the planning office into a McZoning service counter. The form-based picture menu clearly shows what can be built and helps the builder/homeowner to select an allowable building (that maintains the existing context of their neighborhood), just by presenting the smiling city planner with an address.

Any Bob Dylan fan like me should be already on board.  But go ahead and check out the link, because the article is focused around the cartoons.  In the first one, the author/artist analogizes the proposed new zoning regime to a fast food counter and the "menu" above looks a lot like the new urbanist Transect.  It also refers to pops and scrapes.

The article pokes fun at the new code and implies some criticism of the form-based code as being overly restrictive and micro-managing of individual property, and too empowering for the bureaucracy.  If I'm correct in interpreting the author and the article as coming from a hipster/progressive perspective, it underlines that some of the tensions in land use policy can't be reduced to "cartoon" versions of typical left-right political or cultural splits.  But for some really good land use cartoons, check out the article.  And listen to some Dylan while you're at it.

Thanks to Megan Currin for the pointer.

Matt Festa

Form-Based Codes, Local Government, New Urbanism, Zoning | Permalink

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