Business/Commerce

Diversify Suburban Land Use Regulations

Land use regulation amendments, ideally based on a vision created with broad-based public input, can encourage higher density and more diverse land uses in low-density residential developments.

Guidance
  • Consider zoning amendments that encourage:
    • In-fill and row-house development
    • New and diverse housing types, such as the construction of small homes in alleyways, above garages in single-family housing developments, or in the form of secondary suites within single-family houses or multifamily apartment buildings (i.e., basement apartments or smaller suites within multifamily buildings)
    • Increased density and greater allowable bulk (higher allowable building heights and sizes) in areas close to transit
    • Low-impact commercial or manufacturing uses at specific locations, such as a convenience store, day-care facility, or studio space
  • Establish a context-sensitive approach to zoning amendments with flexibility for specific neighborhood needs, historical built form, and concerns
  • Amend associated amendments in city bylaws, policies, and development incentives to support these zoning changes
  • Address provision of the increased needs for open space and public amenities associated with anticipated higher densities
Benefits
  • Contributes to walkable, dynamic streets
  • Improves transit service and use
  • Improves efficiency of energy, land, and infrastructure use
  • Creates a larger customer base for local retail and services
  • Increases opportunities for affordable housing
Considerations
  • Potential to change the character of neighborhoods
  • Increased demand for amenities and open space in areas with increased densities
  • Potential pushback to higher densities from developers and residents
Where to Use It
  • Single-family housing developments
Professional Consensus
  • A Sprawl Retrofit strategy endorsed by the Congress for the New Urbanism
Examples

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.