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Thread: Form based codes

  1. #1

    Form based codes

    Tomorrow evening there will be a public forum discussing Form Based Codes and the need to implement them here. I've read many articles in support of the Codes however I have not read anything regarding negative aspects of the Codes. Has anyone heard anything negative regarding the codes. Does anyone have personal experience creating, administering, or enforcing the codes? I would really like to hear positives and/or negatives. Thanks.

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    The only real negative I can think of for your pending discussions is that the codes are MUCH different than your normal, run-of-mill euclidean zoning. Staff will be investing a significant amount of time re-educating the public, architects, land planners, engineers, etc. on how to properly use the codes. I guess that's not so much a negative as something you need to be aware of as you go forward with discussions.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Check with Louisville/Jefferson County, KY.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I did a bit of research on this and found that it probably requires more staff time up front to investigate site conditions. it also requires that the applicant be more on the ball and have info ready at teh time of application.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    You have to have sufficient staff resources to implement and enforce. And you do not want the review process to drag on and on.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    What ever you find, let me know. I am starting to work on my Thesis on Form Based Coding.

    One of the biggest downfalls with form based coding is the lack of knowledge and perception of residents. The worry that without first regulating use, every corner will have an industrial plant and every house will be turned into a strip club. Beyond that, implementation and enforcement are the biggest issues. But depending on how your building permit process is, and how well your regs are written, time and work for implementation might not increase significantly if a at all.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Our Director is increasingly enamored with the concept, so I have now been directed to udnertake some initial research on this topic.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    I found this link this morning that might shed some light on the subject and hey it has Duanny's picture on it so it must be good.

    http://tndtownpaper.com/images/SmartCode6.5.pdf

  9. #9
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Most of the negatives are myths according a presentation I heard yesterday. It does regulate use, but it is the last thing to be regulated.

    Others include being difficult to enforce, administer, and limited design options are all based on how prepared your staff is and how well it is written.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Most of the negatives are myths according a presentation I heard yesterday. It does regulate use, but it is the last thing to be regulated.

    Others include being difficult to enforce, administer, and limited design options are all based on how prepared your staff is and how well it is written.
    They do indeed regulate use.

    It's also sold as an ultraflexible code that allows evolution. The problem I have is that, absent "The Long Emergency" (e.g., the Hubbert Curve et al), we will still be designing cities for cars, and that the proscriptions of the Form Based Code are designed to limit the flexibility of builders to easily and cheaply accomodate "Easy Motoring"- which, planners aside, the American public as a whole seems to want.

    I'm not dismissing the codes by any means-just reacting to the over-hype and specialized bizzwords. (Do we REALLY need to invent a new term "transect" to discuss land use patterns?)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
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    Two primary consultants in the country that write perfomance zoning codes are Lane Kendig and the second, is Duncan Associates.
    Check out Duncan Associates webpage, esp, their page on APA presentations.
    You darn tootin', I like fig newtons!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    They do indeed regulate use.

    It's also sold as an ultraflexible code that allows evolution. The problem I have is that, absent "The Long Emergency" (e.g., the Hubbert Curve et al), we will still be designing cities for cars, and that the proscriptions of the Form Based Code are designed to limit the flexibility of builders to easily and cheaply accomodate "Easy Motoring"- which, planners aside, the American public as a whole seems to want.

    I'm not dismissing the codes by any means-just reacting to the over-hype and specialized bizzwords. (Do we REALLY need to invent a new term "transect" to discuss land use patterns?)
    Well, it depends on how you set up for code. True you can develop Form Based Codes to make things look the same as they are, but it can also be a valuable tool to encourage communities to be designed for people again. Just like you can set up a zoning code that can help or hurt a city, this is another tool that needs to be created specifically for each municipality.

    While builders will complain that it will limit their creativity, in the past they have put in cookie cutter designs that happen to save them the most money without giving much thought into how it will influence things past that one site. They try to get by with minimum standards in some cases, and run wild with the lack of maximum standards in the other direction.

    Form Based Codes will ease the process, provide for reasonable maximum and minimum standards for specific uses, preserve and enhance historic character, and modify reasonable design requirements to enhance a community.

    I think that while we thought that Euclidean Zoning was a great thing 70 years ago, we now see where it is lacking in many cases. Form Based Codes will help to correct many of the problems that have been caused by over regulation with zoning.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Well, it depends on how you set up for code. True you can develop Form Based Codes to make things look the same as they are, but it can also be a valuable tool to encourage communities to be designed for people again. Just like you can set up a zoning code that can help or hurt a city, this is another tool that needs to be created specifically for each municipality.

    While builders will complain that it will limit their creativity, in the past they have put in cookie cutter designs that happen to save them the most money without giving much thought into how it will influence things past that one site. They try to get by with minimum standards in some cases, and run wild with the lack of maximum standards in the other direction.

    Form Based Codes will ease the process, provide for reasonable maximum and minimum standards for specific uses, preserve and enhance historic character, and modify reasonable design requirements to enhance a community.

    I think that while we thought that Euclidean Zoning was a great thing 70 years ago, we now see where it is lacking in many cases. Form Based Codes will help to correct many of the problems that have been caused by over regulation with zoning.
    But-this is the cynic in me-designing for people in modern America means six lane freeways, big box stores, rigidly separated by income land uses, cul-de-sacs, and "Easy Motoring." I guess my point is that if there was really a big culture shift, the market would be responding more quickly and broadly than it is. Not to deny that there are the beginnings of such a shift and that we should do everything we can to permit it through flexible codes.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    But-this is the cynic in me-designing for people in modern America means six lane freeways, big box stores, rigidly separated by income land uses, cul-de-sacs, and "Easy Motoring." I guess my point is that if there was really a big culture shift, the market would be responding more quickly and broadly than it is. Not to deny that there are the beginnings of such a shift and that we should do everything we can to permit it through flexible codes.
    I agree with you that there is the perception that people are to want the house at the end of the cul-de-sac and commute using the 6 lane freeway. But I think that it is this way because of a severe lack of viable options. There are a limited number of region areas that successfully use and incorporate public transportation. There was the mystique of hopping on the commuter train someplace in the midwest but the super powers known as the Big 3 (Michigan Based Car Companies) have been successful winning the propaganda war that says that every person in America should have a car, and if you don’t your poor and low class.

    I think that this lends some into the hesitation to change, but a larger overriding aspect of it is the political machine in the US. Most of the development is based on short-term comfortable gains. New and crazy ideas need to be proven successful before the rest of America jumps on board. Some political leaders who understand it are jumping on board. One of these is the mayor of Grand Rapids Michigan. There is a firm that is looking at creating a plan to completely change over to Form Based Codes, and it will be the largest City to file their existing Euclidean Zoning Code in the trash can.

    Many others are taking a more conservative approach by introducing it in downtown and special districts, as a test to see if it would be a viable tool for development before exploring full city implementation.

    I would see a significant change once it is proven successful. I am thinking 10 years.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  15. #15

    Pottstown PA

    The only form based zoning code we have in PA is in the Borough of Pottstown PA. It was written a couple of years ago with the involvement of Temple University. It is well-illustrated, but many provisions are not that different from other zoning codes.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee
    You have to have sufficient staff resources to implement and enforce. And you do not want the review process to drag on and on.
    This comment is especially insightful. If you are familar with design committees, you know they typically add more time to any project. The thing I like about form based codes are, they rely more on the planner's expertise to shape the environment. The other pitfall in the future, consistency with approach. A prescriptive zoning code allows more consistency on how to handle circumstances (also a weakness) but protects a municipality from lawsuits. Couple years down the road, the decision making will become inconsistent to circumstances and all of a sudden, something as simple as a setback in a neighborhood will be under attack by a property owner armed with a lawyer.

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