...What is the single most significant change that can be made in every town and city in America? One that would aid economic development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, foster healthier lifestyles, reduce dependence on foreign oil, protect open space and wildlife habitats, and reduce wasteful government spending?
Scrapping zoning codes.
...The mix of uses that gives (our favorite places) life are outlawed by zoning in virtually every city and town in all 50 states.
...The quite sensible idea that people shouldn't live next to steel mills was used to justify a system of "zones" to isolate uses that had lived in harmony for centuries. Suddenly, new neighborhoods were segregated by income, and commerce was torn asunder from both customers and workers. Timeless ways of creating great places were ruthlessly outlawed.
This coincided neatly with the rise of the car industry, and the systematic dismantling of America's electric streetcar network...
..."The American Dream" of single-family tracts, shopping centers and business parks owes more to zoning mandates than to market economics. Zoning was imposed on the American landscape by an unholy alliance between Utopians preaching a "modern" way of life and hard-headed businessmen who profited from supplying that new model, including an auto industry steeped in the ideology that "What's good for General Motors is good for America."
...Environmentalists are slowly realizing that, in protection of the environment, cities aren't the problem, they are actually the solution. ...
... what is the DNA of livable communities?
..regulating the form of buildings, since that is what determines the long-neglected public realm of streets and sidewalks. It does that by regulating setbacks, heights and the physical character of buildings.
...some still claim that the real estate meltdown is only a nasty cyclical slump, that's just whistling past the graveyard. The model is broken. Building and financing generic products (class A office; suburban housing tract; grocery-anchored strip center; business park, etc.) through globally marketable securities has become radioactive...
...Scrap zoning. Adopt coding. Legalize the art of making great places that people cherish, that produce economic value, and that leave a lighter environmental footprint on the land.
Wow. Read the whole thing, written by Rick Cole, City Manager of Ventura, CA.