June 19, 2005

How Do You Plan Active, Livable Communities?

The Local Government Commisison has posted a 6-page brochure, downloadable as a free PDF, on Neighborhood-Scale Planning Tools to Create Active, Livable Communities. The ideas:

  • Mixed-use development, letting people walk or bike to more destinations

  • Design, that balances the need for traffic flow with the need to create "environments that are comfortable, friendly and pedestrian-oriented"

  • Traffic calming, so that high-speed traffic isn't whizzing through your main residential/commercial business district (Framingham's already got that one covered well downtown!)

and so on. The brochure then goes on to discuss how some communities implement this vision, including some tools such as form-based zoning, which talks about buildings' relationship to the street, where parking must be, etc.

And speaking of parking, it's time for our zoning codes to encourage, not discourage, different businesses to share parking if they're open at different times and have different peak demand for spaces. For example, it's silly that patrons of a Rte. 9 restaurant on a Saturday night can't park next door at a strip mall where all the stores are closed. Why do we demand twice as much parking as actually needed?

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