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GIS Zoning district colors- more residential districts than shades of yellow

michaelskis

Cyburbian
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19,868
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48
After quite a bit of discussion, we are going to do our GIS in house instead of having the county do it. Last time it took months to get an updated zoning map. The county GIS tech used a crazy range of colors that didn't typically associate the traditional colors with the corresponding zoning district (residential is yellow, commercial is red...)

Now that I am taking over that duty, I would like to bring the maps into conformance, but come upon an interesting situation... we have nine different residential districts, seven commercial districts, and a hand full of other unique zoning districts like preserve, one industrial district, and such.

What do you when you have more districts than colors?
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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25,348
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56
Screen shot from my fair city's public gis zoning map.

gis zoning colors.jpg
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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14,381
Points
50
Start using hatch marks or something to add patterns to the colors.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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25,348
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56
Start using hatch marks or something to add patterns to the colors.
We use
Vertical/Horizontal cross hatch for Special Uses,
Diagonal hatch for Use & Development Commitments.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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This is part of why from a regulatory standpoint I prefer a B/W map with zoning boundaries and clear labels over a color ramp. If you want to stick with color, I suggest using hatching of some kind.

Or better yet, revise your zoning ordinance! :p
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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14,381
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50
As a planner I believe it is our mission to create more zones with very subtle differences so we can control things to the point of zoning out lemonade stands in residential districts while still allowing meat packing plants in the same district (you know, the zone for factory worker housing with no kids, but plenty of bars).

We mus find new ways to organize our maps to allow for all these zones. I do like the black and white labeled maps. Happens to be colorblind friendly at the same time.
 

The One

Cyburbian
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8,289
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29
Ha

You conformist;)

Who cares, as long as it is accurate.

or

Just use the various shades of standard color codes for hard copy maps. Lump zone districts by use and density in the dozen or so primary color combinations on the hardcopy. This way you can get a quick overview of the general zoning classification. You can look at a hard copy map and know instantly where low density residential, higher density residential, commercial, industrial, mixed use and parks or open space is located. If you want specific information and the exact zone district.....go to the official online or digital copy of the map.

On the computer/online: As long as there is a way to scroll over the parcel or have an interactive way to view the actual name of the district.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,081
Points
34
I tend to borrow from nearby colors. For example, I may use yellows for single family districts, and gold or tan hues for multifamily. I tend not to like using hash lines as that can start to make the map difficult to read.
 

The One

Cyburbian
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8,289
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29
True.....

I tend to borrow from nearby colors. For example, I may use yellows for single family districts, and gold or tan hues for multifamily. I tend not to like using hash lines as that can start to make the map difficult to read.
Yeah, those hash lines make it tough to read other things on the map, like roads......
The online color tool ColorBrewer only goes to 12 primary color classes:
http://www.personal.psu.edu/cab38/ColorBrewer/ColorBrewer.html
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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This is part of why from a regulatory standpoint I prefer a B/W map with zoning boundaries and clear labels over a color ramp. If you want to stick with color, I suggest using hatching of some kind.

Or better yet, revise your zoning ordinance! :p
SR speaks The Truth.

I find the B/W district outlined maps the easiest to use across platforms. Color coding and hashing fails eventually.

One of my goals next year is to convert my color coded map to b/w outlined.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,081
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34
SR speaks The Truth.

I find the B/W district outlined maps the easiest to use across platforms. Color coding and hashing fails eventually.

One of my goals next year is to convert my color coded map to b/w outlined.
It works for some purposes, but not others. It is far easier to scan a map for a single color than to try to look at each district and match it to a code.
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
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900
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in my experience, it's a good idea to separate the representation of zoning control systems from land-use. Land-use, which is represented using land-use colors, reflects actual use (including legacy use), whereas zoning reflects current policy intentions and may have nothing to do with use (what happens if a given zone has embraced form-coding?). I tend to illustrate land-use using colors and zones using black and white hatches and other designation, just like NYC does.
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
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900
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17
in my experience, it's a good idea to separate the representation of zoning control systems from land-use. Land-use, which is represented using land-use colors, reflects actual use (including legacy use), whereas zoning reflects current policy intentions and may have nothing to do with use (what happens if a given zone has embraced form-coding?). I tend to illustrate land-use using colors and zones using black and white hatches and other designation, just like NYC does. That also solves the not-enough-colors issue, usually.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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It works for some purposes, but not others. It is far easier to scan a map for a single color than to try to look at each district and match it to a code.
Perhaps if the number of zoning districts is small and/or each district is large in area, but often there is fine grain collections of different districts which make it difficult to decipher.

I still believe B/W with outlined and labeled districts is the best - legible at a fine grained scale and clearly labeled, so you don't need to reference the legend.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
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18,311
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44
You people favoring black and white are Luddites; you still using Zipatone? Our future land use map and zoning map use a combination of colors and patterns with legends.

On a related note, how do you provide reasonable accommodation for a color-blind planner or GIS tech?
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
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19,868
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You people favoring black and white are Luddites; you still using Zipatone? Our future land use map and zoning map use a combination of colors and patterns with legends.

On a related note, how do you provide reasonable accommodation for a color-blind planner or GIS tech?
That is what we did as well, and labeled the districts on the map as well.
 

BrianVDB

Cyburbian
Messages
87
Points
4
I realize this is an old thread but I just saw it.

Anyone tasked with GIS should take a few minutes to read this article: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/cindy-brewer-map-design/

Cynthia's Color Brewer Tool tool is very handy, including a colorblind-safe checkbox.

Personally I hate cross hatch or spot-fill and only use them when I have to. They are a nightmare overlaid on features such as roads and parcel lines. Color Brewer helped me make the following 16-district zoning symbology and I escaped with only one cross-hatch to indicate a few conditionally rezoned properties (a Mitten thing).



You're supposed to be able to export the layer's attributes to the PDF, so that a user could click on any of the GIS layers and identify something, but I'm having trouble with it right now while experimenting. I can get to the point where I can turn these layers on and off, but not ID as the help topics lead you to believe. I'm wondering if there was a change to Adobe.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Moderator
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18,378
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67
Our zoning district colors are all over the place; they're pretty much random. They were picked just to tell the districts apart, not to identify their category or character.

kbfGWks.jpg

There's internal resistance to adopting more standard colors, but I'm recommending it in the zoning diagnostic. I'm recommending changing the district names, too. Our "medium density residential" zone has a minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet, or about 2.2 units/acre net.
 
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