Markets on Platforms as a Way to Solve Problems

Sometimes problems are big and regulations are onerous. They are too much for a small business, small builder, or everyday homeowner. One approach, taken in Lean Urbanism, is to reduce regulations, or to make compliance easier. Another approach is to both cooperate and compete: cooperate to create a platform supporting each other, and then compete in a market.

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CNU 21 and Type-based Zoning Codes

Recently, particularly at CNU 21, there has been a great deal of discussion of building types in codes. 

Last August, I posted on codes and building types. As I mentioned, there are two main ways of doing codes. One is a matrix-based approach of clean categories, and the other is type-based. The type-based one tends to branch. A townhouse is a kind of house: a branch off the “house” trunk. A major advantage of this approach is that the code can refer to, in that instance, all houses, or just townhouses. It can prohibit all types of houses except townhouses. It’s an extremely supple and flexible way of working. It dovetails with the way that we talk and think about buildings and places.

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Limiting Harm

Planners spend a lot of time trying to keep neighbors from harming each other. Do neighbors have a right to harm each other’s property? How problematic might be a code that limits harm? The best approach may be to write codes that ensure that each property owner can develop a lot to a certain level, and then allow further use so long as it does not harm society, the immediate neighbors, or the community.
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Codes and Building Types

There is a philosophical discussion within the New Urbanism about how best to write codes. This debate among friends is about two successful approaches to codes for development and zoning.

DPZ in general and Andres Duany in particular are famously allergic to the idea of curtailing possibilities. They generally like to err on the side of being permissive.  This leads them to write codes so that any combination of the permitted building envelope and internal function is allowed. Another approach is to code building types so that the compromises necessary for comity among neighbors are built in at the building-type level, rather than the lot-level. Stefanos Polyzoides is the most vocal proponent of that second method, which came to debate at the CNU in 2012.

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