In A Better Way to Zone, published last year by Island Press, Don Elliott, an accomplished Denver land use colleague, consultant and attorney, opens with “Zoning is not a sexy topic”. Obviously, he has not yet spent enough time in Washington State! This Friday, Don and I will share the presentation linked below at the annual conference of the American Planning Association’s Washington State Chapter, in Vancouver, Washington.
I first wrote about Don’s book in the July 14 seattlepi.com. The book’s subtitle is straightforward and foreshadows a direct approach: “Ten Principles to Create More Livable Cities”. Don spends some 220 pages on how zoning was supposed to work, and what went right and wrong. By page 137, he offers the ten principles of a better way to zone:
1. more flexible uses
2. the mixed use middle
3. attainable housing
4. mature areas standards
5. living with nonconformities
6. dynamic development standards
7. negotiated large developments
8. depoliticized final approvals
9. better webbing; and
10. scheduled maintenance
Don is not the first to surgically analyze the zoning tool and prescribe repairs. But in straightforward style, he offers each of his principles as specific “fixes” for patterned lessons of the past. And as someone who has worked in several major American cities and in developing countries, his “evolutionary… governance picture of the future” is based on experience as well as insight.