Zoning Creates Barriers to Progress - Boston Globe

According to Anthony Flint, today’s zoning codes are creating problems for many U.S. towns and cities, not just in the Massachusetts Commonwealth. In his June 4th Boston Globe article, Flint advocates for a radical overhaul in zoning policy after pointing out the irony that building modern versions of old New England towns would today be illegal. With mounting energy prices, Flint argues, we’re going to have to get past a fear of change and legalize an integrated form of zoning that considers proximity.

Zoning Out
Looking to spend less on gas? Why overhauling the outdated rules of development would help.
By Anthony Flint | June 4, 2006

I'm sure I'd be arrested or ignored or maybe punched in the face, but lately I've had the urge to sidle up to people filling their tanks with $3.29-per-gallon gasoline and whisper: "You know, a lot of this problem could be solved if we just changed zoning."

That's right. Those rules for what gets built and where - spelled out on color-coded maps hanging in most every town hall. Soaring gas prices have made a lot of us yearn to drive less, walk more, and work near home. OK, you say. Let's start arranging ourselves differently - let's build neighborhoods where we don't have to jump in the car for every errand. But zoning rules in Massachusetts and across the country forbid proximity. Most municipalities strictly prohibit what planners call "mixed-use" development: homes jumbled together with shops and restaurants and offices. In other words, the traditional New England town center, or Roslindale Square, or Back Bay.

What we need is to abolish zoning as we know it. Start over. Short of that, we should change the most outdated provisions that stand in the way of compact, concentrated development.

To read more, go to Zoning Out: Looking to spend less on gas? Why overhauling the outdated rules of development would help..


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