How rules shape cities: zoning gone wrong

Emily Talen

Emily Talen, ASU professor of planning and senior sustainability scientist, talked about how city zoning, coding and laws got started, and how they need to be changed to help build more livable cities, as a guest on the nationally syndicated Wisconsin Public Radio show "To the Best of Our Knowledge," which aired around the country the week of Oct. 21.

In the program, Talen makes the case that in the contemporary United States, the reasons behind zoning codes and laws aren’t always clear, and don’t always foster livable communities.

The history of zoning “is a story of taking a good idea too far, and trying to make zoning solve all kinds of perceived social problems,” argues Talen. She explains that the form-based code movement, in which zoning is backed up by a visual plan, provides an alternative to current zoning code.

“The end goal is to create communities that are walkable, diverse, compact, and are transit-oriented,” she says.

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