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.
If a local resident or business owner with a high school diploma can’t sit down and figure out what she can and cannot do with her property in less than an hour, the zoning regime is exclusionary. Here are five guidelines for making it more accessible to laypeople.
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?
Incremental development doesn’t mean slow development. Here’s how big places that need housing fast can get there using the Strong Towns approach.
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.
Minneapolis just became the first major U.S. city to embrace a key Strong Towns principle: every neighborhood should be allowed to evolve to the next increment of development.
In New Hampshire, the state charges local planning boards with looking at whether the zoning they have created is going to make a town prosperous. This implies a clear obligation to do the math on costs and benefits of new development.
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.
Following a recent fatal crash, the University of Kentucky is taking a hard look at campus drinking culture. But the city of Lexington needs to pick up the slack on the reasons students feel compelled to drive.
High home prices near many of Portland, Oregon’s rail stations are essentially mandatory. On most nearby lots, dividing the land into so much as a duplex would be illegal. If that’s not a recipe for luxury housing, what is?
Austin needs a new Grand Bargain, one that includes everyone and exempts no one.
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 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.
Where is Austin supposed to put 135,000 new homes in ten years? The city posed the question. Diametrically opposed groups of residents could not come close to agreeing on the answer.
This week we are examining what went wrong with Austin’s CodeNEXT process and what should be done now.
A look at how regulations shape land use in Marietta, Georgia illustrates a vicious cycle: when your zoning code is premised on car-dependency, car-dependency becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A Strong Towns member shared with us a success story from the city of College Station, Texas, which recently revised its zoning code to make it easier to do incremental development by rehabilitating or expanding older structures.
Now, the story of a wealthy family who sold their farm and the developer who exploited an agricultural tax subsidy to keep it all together.
When large storefronts sit empty for years, holding out for the perfect big tenant, while small businesses can’t find space to rent, we’ve got a serious problem.
Why is your city dotted with vacant lots? Probably because it’s functionally illegal to build on them.