Form-based codes

News and resources relating to form-based codes, the SmartCode, and other urban-oriented regulations.

Related News

How zoning reform could help my town

We intend to look at how a form-based code, supported by smart transportation decisions, could advance the terrific goals set by citizens and community leaders.

Fri, May 29th 2015 11:22am
Health, safety, and welfare for the next generation

Lately I’ve been thinking about “health, safety, and general welfare” — the basis by which zoning is typically legitimized and measured — and wondering just how great a disconnect needs to form between our purported values and our land use regulations before we admit that something’s not working.

Thu, May 21st 2015 8:37am
Building a single-stair walk up

John Anderson offers tips on how to get the most of a single-stair walk-up building while complying to building and accessibility codes. 

Thu, May 14th 2015 5:58pm
Are you getting the change you want from the status quo?

The future of communities is being written by land-use regulations. If we want to intentionally author our future, we had better get busy and consider the options.

Thu, Mar 5th 2015 5:17pm
Preserving micro units in Norman, Oklahoma

A small infill builder tests a new housing type in a neighborhood next to a university, generating a win for housing diversity.

Wed, Mar 4th 2015 11:10am
The benefits of form-based planning and coding

Let’s discuss how community planning could be fundamentally reorganized to improve both efficiency and placemaking.

Mon, Mar 2nd 2015 10:03am
Dallas-Fort Worth is a laboratory for placemaking

The region is at a crossroads between Texas-sized sprawl and connected, walkable neighborhoods. Every national issue on land use and transportation is playing out in DFW and will be debated at CNU.

Mon, Feb 9th 2015 11:45am
The forward march of form-based codes

The latest update of the of the Codes Study tracks 600 form-based codes and guidelines in the US and abroad—a significant rise in the last two years.

Wed, Jan 28th 2015 10:16am
Beaufort County Eliminates PUDs in Favor of Walkable Neighborhoods!

Beaufort County followed the Town of Port Royal to become the second of three local jurisdictions to adopt a shared, Form-Based Coding platform. Opticos was commissioned in 2010 to create a multijurisdictional Form-Based Code that Beaufort County, the City of Beaufort, and the Town of Port Royal could share in order to better coordinate growth between the three jurisdictions, help channel future growth toward existing urban areas, and protect the county’s rural character. Opticos worked closely with all three communities to create a shared framework of Transect zones and related standards that could be adapted to the needs of each community.

Wed, Jan 21st 2015 8:47pm
System A and System B

When the research favors compact, mixed-use neighborhoods, why does government favor sprawl?

Mon, Jan 19th 2015 10:41am
'Deadwood City' no more, thanks to new code

With the help of a form-based code (FBC), Redwood City, California, has become the new Silicon Valley hot spot.

Mon, Oct 27th 2014 1:06pm
This area protected by form-based codes

A cartoon by Dhiru Thadani points out the potential of form-based codes to preserve open space, which is sometimes overlooked. 

Thu, Oct 16th 2014 1:17pm
Form-based code adopted to redevelop business campus

The Hartford, a Fortune 500 insurance and investment firm based in Hartford, Connecticut, is using form-based coding to spur redevelopment of its 173-acre former business campus.

Thu, Oct 9th 2014 4:14pm
Top 10 Misconceptions about form-based codes

Several common assumptions about new urban codes fail to stand up to scrutiny.

Tue, Sep 23rd 2014 9:28am
Major transit-oriented project advances in Atlanta suburb

A form-based code is approved for the City of Doraville’s town center and former GM factory.

Thu, Sep 4th 2014 11:16am
Cincinnati Form-Based Code Earns Top Award at CNU22

The Cincinnati Form-Based Code led by Opticos was awarded the Grand Prize for Best Planning Tool or Process at the Congress for the New Urbanism’s 13th Annual Charter Awards in Buffalo, N.Y., held during CNU’s annual Congress, June 4 – 7. Cincinnati’s Form-Based Code, one of the largest of its kind in the country, was adopted last year.

Mon, Aug 18th 2014 9:40pm
Mission accomplished? Not yet

I agree that many consumers demand more walkable development, both in cities and in suburbs. But even in relatively prosperous, safe cities, the political obstacles to meeting this demand are enormous.

Wed, Aug 6th 2014 9:41am
Streetcar is approved for Columbia Pike

Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia, one of the more successful commercial strip redevelopment areas spurred by a form-based code, will get a streetcar.

Mon, Jul 21st 2014 12:57pm
Bookshelf reveals community dysfunction

In Leawood, Kansas, the front-yard book kiosk of 9-year-old resident Spencer Collins was cited as an illegal accessory structure.

Wed, Jul 16th 2014 1:42pm
Common concerns about design review

Design review is not without its dangers. Here are some of the problems to be avoided:

Mon, Jun 23rd 2014 8:59am
Finding the right path through design review

Municipalities—searching for ways to better shape development — must tailor their approach to the community’s size and professional resources.

Fri, Jun 20th 2014 10:49am
Bad call: Wide streets in the name of fire safety

Fire officials often push for wider streets so that their biggest trucks can move more swiftly — but the wider streets lead to more deaths and injuries. They do this, supposedly, in the name of safety.

Wed, May 21st 2014 3:09pm
Quick, high-quality results for Mesa’s downtown form-based code

The City of Mesa, AZ, hired Opticos to create a Master Plan and Form-Based Code that would remove existing barriers to revitalizing the city’s downtown. The code was adopted in June 2012, and the first project to be developed with the code was completed in November of last year.

For more, visit:

Mon, May 12th 2014 9:43pm
FBC 301: Completing, adopting and administering a code May 22-23

During this 2-day course, participants learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of a form-based code. They gain an in-depth look at the mechanics, advantages and disadvantages of mandatory, parallel and floating-zone form-based codes.

Mon, May 12th 2014 8:33pm
Social striving propels the drive-only suburban machine

Coalitions and strategic politics — and shifting cultural values — can deliver the structural change needed to allow American urbanism to flower again, according to Benjamin Ross, author of Dead End.

Wed, Apr 30th 2014 9:08am

Adopted SmartCodes

Click here for larger SmartCode maps.



The forward march of form-based codes

The latest update of the of the Codes Study tracks 600 form-based codes and guidelines in the US and abroad—a significant rise in the last two years.

Wed, Jan 28th 2015 10:16am
System A and System B

When the research favors compact, mixed-use neighborhoods, why does government favor sprawl?

Mon, Jan 19th 2015 10:41am
Zoning matters for urban crime, study suggests

A study of 205 blocks in high-crime areas of Los Angeles suggests that increasing residential zoning in blocks that are otherwise zoned for commercial can reduce crime. The study, published in the February issue of University of Pennsylvania Law Review, finds that city blocks zoned exclusively for residential uses, as well as those zoned for residential and commercial (mixed) uses have less crime than blocks that are zoned solely for commercial use. The research shows that single-use commercially zoned blocks have expected crime rates that are about 45 percent higher than blocks with residential uses mixed in.

Mon, Feb 25th 2013 8:39am