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Smart Code, is it.....smart?

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
At the time I was laid off from my position, the city I work for had completed a number of community charrettes moderated by DPZ and co. He has since taken his $250k and supplied a copy of his "smart code" to us to examine and implement. The councilpersons are anxious to implement this new code and reinvent zoning and planning in this town. However, many of the staff members have questions and concerns regarding somewhat backward thinking ideas such as not requiring commercial development to have onsite detention. I, at this point, don't have a problem with this specific idea, but senior planners and the interim director almost had heart failure.

Anyway, does anyone have real world examples of towns that have implemented smart code and does anyone have comment to their success or problems with administering it.

Specifically, did the code devastate the existing, thriving sprawl of the community or did it allow a smoother transition? How did the old, urban areas respond?

I find this smart code to be interesting and its ideals may be one answer to solving the problems of urban decline and flight.

on a side note.. as i read it i said.. duh.. i knew all this already, however the politicians can't possibly trust staff enough to develop this. They needed to spend 250K to feel it was done "right". blah.

 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,415
Points
34
Boiker,

You're not the only one with those questions...

I am extremely curious about the SmartCode and how it will work in greenfield suburban areas. I've heard of places applying the Code to a particular district, but haven't heard much about it being applied across an entire city in lieu of conventional zoning/development regulations. My major concern is that it may require a high amount of staff time & expertise in regards to interpretation and assisting developers since both staff and developers will have to get familiar with how the code works. I'm willing to bet you can zip an email to DPZ and ask if any cities have adopted the code. You might even try municode.com since that is who the license is being sold through I think.

My city seems to be jumping on the Smart Growth bandwagon somewhat, so I'm curious about the implementation of SmartCode and how it was received by the staff, developers and public.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
the concept

the smart code concept utilizes transects of differing intensities. Basically, 6 different transects. Industrial, hospital, college, and government uses are considered to be special planning areas and can be designated as needed. Otherwise, different mixes of commericial and residentail are allowed to comingle. The major differences between the transects are setbacks, architecutural entrance/building presentation methods, and amount of land devoted to parking.


If the plan is city wide, to quote one of our senior planners, "this would devastate the north side" which is the heavily suburbanized post 1950s portion of the city." I admit that it would devastate the current building methods, but implemented correctly, an eased transition may be possible. The old part of town will benefit tremendously. The city has already taken steps to make the smart code fit by eliminating parking requirements in the downtown and adjacent areas.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
I can relate to the post 50’s style development and the crazy abundance of ranch homes. I love the idea of smart growth, and it seems like every few weeks the Governor is pushing for more smart growth, but how can it be implemented into a city that has never done much in the way of smart growth. Portage has a very Suburban feel to it, right down to platted developments with pretty signs at the entrances. We have no mixed use, no downtown, and no zero front setback development. I think that with the exception of the new bike paths, we are almost opposite of smart growth. How would it be possible for something to happen, to incorporate these ideas into development?
 

GeoTech

Cyburbian
Messages
32
Points
2
I have a problem with applying a generic code to any specific place. It defeats the purpose of planning to begin with. It's my opinion that, in order for communities to keep their identity they have to do the hard work of adopting a comp plan and work through implementation. In outlying suburban areas, you cannot ignore conservation planning and farmland protection issues. Yet there may be some traditional neighborhood areas that the municipality can grow from.

Force the Planning Board Memebrs/Local Legislators to think through the issues. This is not easy, but that's why they are paying us, isn't it???
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
geo-

that was exactly my discussion with two senior planners today. Of course the theory of the code is good. But it is not code tailored to fit my community. We're planning department modeling session where we examine the effects of the smart code and what it means to the "neighborhood pedestrian sheds." Also, we are going to highly encourage the council to rethink their plans to use this code over the whole community. This will devastate the post 1950 suburban portion of the city.

The smart code address form, architecture, and street widths. But it does not address economics, schools, crime, etc.

The struggle we have now is, if the code is implemented in a realtivley dense portion of town, that is poor, has high crime, poor schools. What is it going to do?

Our comp plan does a wonderful job of outlining the old urban neighborhood centers and commercial corridors, however, our current zoning requires suburban design features, not urban.
 
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