How to Use Building Types in Zoning

Building types can be useful in form-based codes where the goal is to enable a fine–grained mix of buildings of varied density and type in walkable neighborhoods. The approach of using building types is also effective in situations where permit streamlining is required and discretionary review is not allowed or significantly limited. For example, in California, Senate Bill 35 requires that only a community’s ‘Objective Design and Development Standards’ apply to multi-family or mixed-use projects. This means that more rather than less clarity in the standards and the community’s expectations is needed. Building types when prepared well offer that needed clarity.
ZoningObjective Design StandardsMissing Middle HousingUrban DesignPlacemakingWalkabilityForm-Based Codes

20 Years and Counting!

2020 has not been the year any of us expected. While we all do our part to confront this year’s challenges, it’s also important to take time to rest, to rejuvenate, and to celebrate. In that spirit, we hope you’ll join us to take a minute to celebrate Opticos’s 20th Anniversary, including the work of our past and current team, colleagues, and innovative clients, as well as look toward the future.
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Building Types in Zoning, Part 1: Why?

Building types are a key component of the physical environment and have existed for millennia in all types of walkable places: from crossroads and small towns to every size of city. Building types and the public realm have made all of these places.   But despite their existence before zoning, building types were left aside when zoning focused on the separation of uses while relegating physical form and character to a non-essential role. The physical realities and qualities of walkable places that existed long before zoning were now viewed through the lens of use, density and Floor Area Ratio (FAR): a lens that is not capable of recognizing physical form and character.
Missing Middle HousingUrban DesignPlacemakingWalkabilityForm-Based Codes