04 January 2008

Qualls Supports Form-Based Codes


I was taken aback, when in a recent interview with The Beacon, Roxanne Qualls mentioned "form-based codes". The rest of the interview is peppered with similar revelations, but that is the first time I have ever heard a politician.... much less a local politician, even mention form-based codes. Here is the relevant quote:

2. Maintain and strengthen the compact, pedestrian oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods of our city. This goes beyond reforming the zoning code. It means putting in place form-based codes that reinforce the unique character of our neighborhoods, simplify permitting processes, speed development, all the while reflecting the aspirations and goals of the residents. It means combing through all the codes that impact our existing buildings and, without sacrificing safety, finding those codes that add costs and delays to renovation and rehab.

For those of you who read this blog, but do not keep up with the New Urbanism movement or the particulars of Zoning Codes, let me summarize what this means.

Form based zoning codes are about the shape, location and density of buildings. They emphasize the creation of beautiful streetscapes. See the diagram at the top of this post. It is called a Urban to Rural Transect. Differing parts of a region or city are classified T-1 to T-6, and this classification determines all the zoning requirements. It does not determine the uses allowed.

Most zoning laws, including Cincinnati's are "use-based'. This means if you are zoned R, you can build a house. If you are zoned M, you can build a factory. Use-based zoning is a disaster for cities because they emphasize the separation of work and home. If you live in a residentially zoned neighborhood, you generally cannot operate a business there. Frankly, I do not want to live in such a residential ghetto, and a growing number of Americans share my distaste for such places.

A successful urban neighborhood depends on this mixture of uses, and it seems Ms. Qualls has studied the issue and come to the same conclusion.

Read more about the transect and form based codes.


dew said...

Love myself some Roxanne Qualls. When she was mayor in the late nineties, she was my professor for one of my school of planning classes. In all honesty, she was the best teacher I had in all my years there - great speaker, educated, and sparked some great conversations.

Her experience at Harvard only furthered this amazing mind.

Thank goodness she's back - and a fellow downtowner.

Anonymous said...

Form-based codes are attractive on principle, but implementing them in Cincinnati seems tricky. The shift from use-based codes, which are so institutionalized, to form-based codes would require more than a dynamic council. Wonder were Mr. Graves and the new planning department stands on this.

Kevin LeMaster said...

Qualls brought up form-based codes at a meeting I had with her in October, and I was intrigued by the idea. I know that she brings up the idea often in Planning Commission meetings.

I would also like to know Graves' position on form-based codes. I haven't been able to find any direct info as far as that goes, so I suppose I'll ask him.

Radarman said...

She's going to be so much better as mayor this next time than she was last time.

Radarman said...

She's going to be so much better as mayor this next time than she was last time.

CityKin said...

Seems like she is focusing in on specific issues more directly. The next 2 years will be very telling.

And I agree, she obviously has her eye on Mallory's job. She supported him, but my guess is that she wants much more aggressive action than Mallory has delivered.