Monday, April 4, 2011

New zoning fad creates old-style business districts

By Dan Bobkoff
Marketplace, American Public Media, Monday, April 4, 2011

City planners increasingly wonder if traditional zoning laws lead to sprawl. So more cities are turning to "form-based" code, which focuses on a building's look, rather than its specific commercial/residential use.

BOB MOON: This land is your land, this land is my land. But the government can decide how it gets used. More and more communities are looking to the future, and getting a little nostalgic about the way things use to be. They have visions of nice shops and busy sidewalks, maybe apartments on the upper floors, and homes a short walk away. There's just one problem: zoning laws.

Dan Bobkoff, of the public media project Changing Gears, tells us why.

DAN BOBKOFF: Before big-box stores and strip malls and a car in every driveway, it was normal to live in dense neighborhoods.

ANTHONY FLINT: A place where they can walk to a corner store, maybe live above a store. And those kinds of things, that's illegal in America today in so many of our communities.

Illegal because of zoning. Anthony Flint is with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. He says cities have spent much of the last century separating the shops and factories and homes. And that made sense in the beginning.

FLINT: You didn't want to have a slaughter house next to a residential apartment.

But the effect was an almost complete segregation of uses.

...Read full interview here.

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