How zoning went wrong, and how to shape places better
A new book by Emily Talen traces the unfortunate history of zoning codes, and argues for clearer vision.
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A new book by Emily Talen traces the unfortunate history of zoning codes, and argues for clearer vision.To borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, we shape our communities and then they shape us. But how do we shape communities? Mainly through arcane and complex land-use codes.
Arizona State University city and regional planning professor Emily Talen tells the story of these regulations in her insightful and intelligent new book City Rules.
“A crucial point, which is sometimes lost, is that sprawl is not the result of no rules, it is often the result of too many rules.”
Codes pertaining to streets, parking, setbacks, lot size, building heights, sidewalks, block size, allowed uses, and many other aspects of communities are ubiquitous from Midtown Manhattan to a leafy suburb. They are the unseen determinants of whether we will live in a compact, walkable community or in a place where an automobile is needed to get anywhere.
Codes play a big role in the greenhouse gases that we emit, how much we spend for transportation, and the accessibility to things we need in our daily lives.
Talen explores the beginnings of land-use codes, going all the way back to ancient city-states like Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus River