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Thread: Question about standardized land use code colors

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Question about standardized land use code colors

    For those who are involved in master planning, do you use the standard land use color codes for future land use maps? That is, yellow for single-family residential, red for commercial, purple for industrial, etc? If you do use those standards, is it because you want to maintain consistency, or because it is the industry standard? For those who do not follow that standard, can you tell me why? When does it make sense to deviate and be creative? It seems like those colors are arbitrarily assigned to similarily arbitrary land use categories. Regarding the land use categories, do you also use the standard categories? For instance, is a state-funded university a public land use, or is it an institutional use? I appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Well, here's the classic! In my area, though, we use whatever our GIS folks say looks best, such as dismal gray for industrial. There is no intention whatsoever to follow a standardized color scheme. On our maps, a state-funded university is a public use, altho a good argument could be made for making it institutional, since the neighbors say the students are all mental cases who party non-stop.

    The Zoning Administrator
    by Michael Rubin AICP, Santa Clarita, California

    In a mid-size, mid-American city, with a mid-size planning department was a zoning administrator who held his post for over 30 years. He had a peculiar morning routine upon his arrival at the office; he would always sit down at his desk, then stealthily look around the office to see if anyone was looking (he never noticed, that the whole office did notice this everyday), then, unlock his top center desk drawer, quickly glance at a 3"x5" card, quickly put the card back in the drawer, and proceed with his daily tasks. This morning ritual had gone on for as long as anyone in the office could remember. One day, unfortunately, the zoning czar dies. The whole office attends his funeral, three days later, in the morning. Afterward, they all go out to lunch together. Upon returning to the office, the staff is all standing by his old desk, reminiscing about him and his career, when suddenly, they all thought the same thing simultaneously! One planner said to another, “You get a screwdriver. I’ll get a hammer.” So, they proceed to break into the guy’s desk, pull out the 3"x5" card, and then read it aloud to the group: “YELLOW - Residential, RED - Commercial, BLUE - Manufacturing, . . . .”

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    For instance, is a state-funded university a public land use, or is it an institutional use?

    This is one of my peeves about planning and government uses.

    Is it not more important to look at the use (ie school) and the use's impacts vs. who own it (public vs private)? For example we have government garages zoned institutional, even though if they were a private firm (trucking / equipment repair) they would be in an industrial zone.

    As for colours we mix the classic yellow - residential, red - commercial with what looks good on the computer screen and printed out.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    The colored pencils actually have a number on them that corresponds with land use planning textbooks I've seen. Such as, use Color #100 for commercial, #433 for multi-family, etc.

    Why be different?

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    APA has a standardized classification system which includes colors. You can download it from their wensite, but be warned, it's obnoxiously detailed.

    We follow the same scheme as our regional planning commission. Exisitng land uses are only colored by type (i.e. yellow = single family, orange = multi family, red = commercial etc). Future land uses follow theat + have a dot or hatch pattern overlay to denote density or intensity of the use.

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    Cyburbian
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    I'm in the consulting biz so I work for various communities (that is, I'm not usually working with an established local policy or preference), and generally advocate for using the standard color scheme. If I'm not making the maps myself, that can be tough, since the GIS programs have their own color schemes that the technicians tend to favor (e.g. "bountiful harvest" -- shades of gold and green). I think that use of the standard land use colors is preferable because it makes it a whole lot easier to read the map (since once you know the scheme you have a general idea what you are looking at on any map that uses it), and also simplifies efforts to compare that map with others (future land use for your own community, existing land use for similar communities).

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I'll be a little different; a little unconventional. Why stick to a strict color scheme put together before most colors were invented? I agree, keep it close, but why not use shades of tan for different densities of residential, shades of green for different types of parks and open space, shades of lilac or gray for industrial uses, etc.? Maps convey meaning but they are also works of art (geographer, here) so use the technology we have to make them as good as they can be.

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    And Canary Yellow sucks...I appreciate consistency, but not blind following like lemmings.

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Manufactured Homes

    How do you folks treats manufactured home parks? And the future land use plan map, are they lumped in with single-family residential and colored yellow (or whatever color, as long as it is consistent with the single-family color), or is the manufactured home park given its own color? If you treat the manufactued home park differently from single-family residential, can you tell me why you do it that way? Thanks!

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    We have a special zone for "mini home/mobile home" parks.

    The rationale is that the owners of the structures do not own the land on which the units are situated and there are no lot lines for required setbacks and appropriate separation distances between units. It also allows us to permit private roads and expressly limit the City's liability fior maintenance and construction.

    We also permit mini homes to be located in the City in some of our more rural areas, while mobile homes are only permitted in parks. The reason for this is to protect teh visual appeal of neighbourhoods int eh city. I know I would not want one on the vacant lot behind me as it would not fit into the 1880's neighbourhood I live in, and the request has been made in similar areas of the City.

    The colour on the map is kind of a baby puke green / yellow
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Originally posted by donk
    The colour on the map is kind of a baby puke green / yellow
    ...so what color do you use for single-family residential?

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    BWharrie's avatar
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    Reality Zoning Colours

    The Melbourne & Metropolitan Planning Scheme used colours relating to colour aerial photography.

    Residential Houses in Melbourne predominantly have a red roof (red tin roof, red cement tiles) so therefore residential should have been red but...most of the land use of the metropolitan area would have been red - too strong a colour for use on large areas of the map so it was decided to go for pink. Pink for Residential.

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    BWharrie's avatar
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    Reality Zoning Colours

    Next... Industrial hmmm, dirty yucky, pollution etc. Brown seemed a yucky colour for industrial areas, so brown it was. But wait, there's more... what about light industrial, you know small time industrial ventures on small blocks, so ....light brown it was as opposed to brown for HEAVY industrial.

    Ahhh, what about dangerous industrial areas such as explosive munitions areas....yep brown with red dots... red = danger!

    But what about offensive industrial such as industries causing smells etc..not nice....yep brown with black dots ...lots a bit yucky and horrible doesn't it!

    Now an easy one...parks,...too easy ...green it is. But what if it is a proposed park on private properties and those properties will have to be acquired. So it not quite green, right...no not light green but green and white 45 degree stripes about 5mm thick depending on the size of land and the map scale.

    Rivers and creeks - no decision - medium to light blue

    No we are running out of colours so we'll just flip a coin.

    Commercial (local shops, shopping centres etc)= purple

    Service Commercial/Retail (purple and blue 45 degree diagonal stripes)

    Main Road - magenta red

    Proposed Main Road, freeway etc - megenta with 1/8in white perpendicular stripes every half inch.

    Secondary Road - orange

    Road widening , land to be acquired - dark blue

    Conservation Areas - olive green

    future Residential areas - pink with black thin line cross hatching

    This colour scheme worked from 1954 to about 194 then they went black and white for a while, now they are back to similiar colours again.

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    ...so what color do you use for single-family residential?
    Jaundice / liver disease yellow.

    Super light it almost looks white.
    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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