‘Little Communities’: A zoning proposal

A zoning proposal

In light of the density issue, we suggest limited re-zoning for these smaller units in existing housing, to create what we may call “little communities.” Rezoning for smaller units could be limited to along public transportation routes (bus and rapid transit), perhaps two or three house lots deep on each side of these routes. Rezoning could also allow one or two additional stories to be created on top of existing one- or two-story commercial properties along these routes. 

Parking requirements need to be waived. But these smaller units are ideal for people who rely on pedestrian and bicycle transport, on public transportation, and on delivery services – all the way of the future. We also suggest that upzoning not be restricive, but allow a variety of occupancies: not just residential, but also offices, artist and craft studios, and small businesses, letting owners respond to market demand and decide the best uses of their properties.

We call them “little communities” because non-restrictive upzoning would likely produce a variety of occupancies, in contrast to current zoning practice that separates residential from commercial from industrial zones. Today, our residential neighborhoods have become large areas of housing only. We come and go to work and to gather our needs, and making real friends with neighbors is not easy. No real cooperation happens.

In times past, villages and small towns had a blacksmith, miller, tailor, carpenter, baker, weaver, minstrel, and other occupations in close proximity. The “little communities” we propose would allow a variety of incomes, skills, and businesses to coalesce along transit routes: convenience stores, small restaurants, artists, craftspeople, professionals, service personnel, and various income levels and occupations – all located along the edges of residential neighborhoods and offering more varied resources locally. Real community and cooperation does not occur among like-skilled people but between differently-skilled people who exchange and trade their skills with each other.

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