In my major City Journal feature on Buffalo last year, I mentioned the city’s work on its so-called “Buffalo Green Code” as one of the positive developments to watch.
Last week the city gave final approval to this complete rewrite of the city’s planning and zoning code, and a new land use map for the city. I review the highlights over at City Journal:
As an older city, Buffalo is already built [in an urban form] in many areas. But past zoning choices have had lingering negative consequences. “Sixty years ago planners sought to replace the city with a suburban auto-dominated (dominated, not oriented) model,” says Brendan Mehaffey, Buffalo’s executive director of strategic planning. “Most of the city as built was non-conforming with the existing development. Through urban renewal and other programs, planners sought to replace the city’s built environment block-by-block.”
Buffalo’s new zoning code rejects that mid-century policy in favor of urban infill that matches historic development. The Green Code hopes to promote walkability through street design. The new land-use plan also reflects the realities of deindustrialization and the preferences of today’s residents. As Mehaffey says, “Instead of imagining our waterfront for the production of steel, today we imagine it as a unique environmental resource that adds to the quality of life of residents.” The Green Code is notable for being dramatically simpler than the old code. According to the Buffalo News, the previous code ran 1,802 pages. The new code is only 338 pages—an 80 percent reduction.
Click through to read the whole thing.