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Zoning

How the Government Segregated America's Cities By Design

How the Government Segregated America's Cities By Design

Most Americans have never lived in a time when “the inner city” wasn’t a locus of poverty, physical blight and social disintegration. Yet many of us fail to grasp the extent to which public policy had its thumb on the scale from the start in creating those conditions.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Commuter rail stations in the San Francisco Bay Area should be some of the most valuable land in the region (and by extension, the world). So why are there so many parking lots and one-story buildings right next to them?

6 Rules for Unlocking the Potential of Mid-Size Cities

6 Rules for Unlocking the Potential of Mid-Size Cities

Mid-size regions like Kansas City don’t have the affordability struggles of, say, a fast-growing Denver or Seattle: they have their own unique challenges instead. Here’s how the “natural” affordability of homes in these places can be turned into an opportunity for an urban renaissance.

5 Ways To Make the Missing Middle Less Missing

5 Ways To Make the Missing Middle Less Missing

Missing Middle development—anything from a duplex to a cottage court to a small apartment building—is an indispensable piece of the Strong Towns vision for cities that are resilient, adaptable, and can pay their bills. We need to revive a culture of building this way: here are 5 ways cities can start.

Do Minimum Lot Size Rules Matter?

Do Minimum Lot Size Rules Matter?

Many cities impose a minimum lot size on residential neighborhoods—which can lead to more expensive housing and less tax revenue to pay for city services. But do these rules actually lead to bigger lots—or do they just reflect what the market would produce anyway? A new study sheds some light on that question.

Housing Markets Should Be More Like Supermarkets

Housing Markets Should Be More Like Supermarkets

In many areas of modern life, the market provides a cornucopia of choices to accommodate people’s diverse needs, wants, and tastes: just visit a supermarket to see this. When it comes to housing options, though, the reality is starkly different.

The Death of the Suburban Fourplex

The Death of the Suburban Fourplex

Most apartments built today are in huge complexes along busy streets, not tucked away in quiet neighborhoods in “missing middle” buildings like fourplexes, which used to be common. But how did the missing middle go missing, anyway?

Why Urban Design Should Come From The Bottom Up (Part 2)

Why Urban Design Should Come From The Bottom Up (Part 2)

Historically, a decentralized, trial-and-error process was how cities “discovered” which urban design features worked best for their own circumstances. Let’s look at the evolution of front setbacks in New York to understand how this works.

We Regulate the Wrong Things

We Regulate the Wrong Things

Most cities’ zoning and development regulations obsess over things that are easy to measure, like building height and density, at the expense of the things that actually determine whether we’re building quality places.

What comes after NEXT?

What comes after NEXT?

Austin needs a new Grand Bargain, one that includes everyone and exempts no one.

So You Want to Build an ADU?

So You Want to Build an ADU?

Let’s walk through what it actually takes to build a small rental apartment on your property in Austin, Texas. It’s a lesson in how the city’s existing code stymies gentle, incremental, small-scale development.

Austin's Bad Party: The Failure of CodeNEXT

Austin's Bad Party: The Failure of CodeNEXT

Austin’s CodeNEXT process, a dramatic overhaul of the city’s zoning code, tried to placate multiple constituencies with a “grand bargain.” The result was a draft code that satisified almost no one and failed to solve the city’s housing and growth challenges.