Zoning and Code Changes

The Question:

Regarding “Expanding residential zoning areas to avoid lengthy amendment processes” - Expand residential zoning areas to where & how specifically would you amend?”

My Answers:

Zoning in general is a hugely important and powerful tool that a city can use to define its physical character.  However it can also serve to stifle innovation and increase development time - which leads to higher costs for housing.  

Regarding the amendment process in general...  I would like to work with the Planning Department to figure out an expedited zoning variance review system for "affordable" housing projects that a) is transparent, b) is fair (and legally defensible!) and c) rewards thoughtfulness, creativity and compassion (not just money.  For example, I want to see it easier for a developer to implement creative mitigating factors, like integrating a Zipcar lot into a project's parking infrastructure, instead of simply allowing them to "buy off" their parking requirements.

Regarding specific building code amendments…  I also will pursue the revision of the current 40’ height limit on residential construction to match the current 50’ height limit for commercial constructions.  This expansion will essentially allow the construction of an additional story from 3 to 4, effectively increasing the potential space by ⅓.  For example:  Given 10 units per floor, with the first floor dedicated to parking, this change would increase the number of potential units from 20 to 30.  In addition to increasing the number of units, the result would be more units per acre, which would also reduce the overall cost of the project.  And of course lower cost means lower price.

Regarding zoning... I would pursue the idea of converting some, if not all, of the existing mixed-use zones (where appropriate) to a zone type that would allow residential and commercial use EXCEPT hotels.

 


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