April 16, 2005

Major Miami Zoning Overhaul Focuses On Pedestrian-Friendly Zoning

The city of Miami, long criticized for helter-skelter development, plans to replace its antiquated zoning code with a neighborhood- and pedestrian-friendly set of building rules in an effort to map the future," reports the Miami Herald. "The goal is a simple ''form-based'' zoning code that clearly and concisely delineates where intensive development is appropriate and where it isn't, and outlines how buildings should be shaped to ensure attractive, people-friendly streets.

"Miami would be the first major U.S. city to adopt such a code.

"It will be written by the Miami firm of Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, co-founders of the New Urbanist movement, which seeks to revive the principles of traditional town planning -- denser, compact development and walkable streets -- as an alternative to auto-dependent urban sprawl."


Even if this goes through, it will likely take years - perhaps decades - for a new zoning code to have major impact on a city the size of Miami. But in 2020, 15 years of development will have taken place with or without the zoning change. Miami 2020 will have a seriously different look and feel depending on the outcome of this zoning plan. Big kudos to them for making the effort.

The mistake so many local officials make is to look at hideous development patterns, whether in Miami or Rte. 9 in Framingham, and throw up their hands in despair. Had our local officials done something like this 20 years ago, we'd all be enjoying a nicer quality of life now in 2005.

As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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