NAHB Best In American Living - Winter 2018 - v2 - 22
Transect Development Patterns
Conventional Suburban Development (CSD) along a gradient of single-uses, with increasing pavement
and context simplification from Open Space to Shopping Center and Business Park.
a restaurant renaissance driven by social and experiential needs.
A domino effect causes smaller retail tenants to fail, resulting
in fewer employment opportunities, decreased property
values, and vanishing municipal tax revenue. This downward
cascade from restrictive, single-use zoning can be slowed, and
even reversed, with focused urban design based on a neighborhood model that puts a premium on experiences and services.
Effective sprawl repair transforms dead malls, shopping
centers, office parks, and underutilized parking lots into town
centers, with a variety of housing in walkable, reconnected
street networks. Compact, mixed-use development reduces
full car dependence, offers live-work-entertainment options,
increases tax revenues, improves municipal service efficiency,
and creates significant value for the long term. Infill residential development within this context can be tailored to
the needs of millennials and seniors, accommodating their
22 BEST IN AMERICAN LIVING | www.bestinamericanliving.com
Complete Community Urbanism along a gradient of mixed-uses, with increasing complexity and
function from T1 Natural to T6 Urban conditions.
POLICY AND REGULATORY CHALLENGES MUST BE ADDRESSED
However, such neighborhoods cannot be built within the
existing regulatory environment. Sprawl repair requires policy
and regulation revisions in the form of zoning adjustment,
targeted funding, and incentives equivalent to instruments
that have fostered sprawling land use patterns in the United
States since the end of World War II. Instead of an instant,
total overhaul of communities, incremental and opportunistic
improvement is key. Organizations such as Build A Better Burb
offer resources for communities and practitioners.
A gradual process of adopting form-based codes has been
started by some municipalities and cities. Form-based codes
regulate the form of the built environment, allowing and
encouraging good place-making. A model form-based code
is the SmartCode, a comprehensive ordinance that enables
smart growth community patterns and the transformation of
sprawl into walkable urbanism. The code includes a special
sprawl repair sector that is assigned to areas that are currently
single use and have disconnected conventional development
patterns, but have the potential to be redeveloped into neighborhoods and urban centers.
The Sprawl Repair Module has been created as a special
"plug-in" to the SmartCode to activate the technology for
repair as a part of the code. The module presents a sequence of
techniques for retrofitting the sprawl elements into complete
communities. It operates at the scale of the region, community,
block, building, and thoroughfare.
The SmartCode and the Sprawl Repair Module function
according to the rural-to-urban transect, an organizational
framework and planning methodology that enables the redevelopment of our sprawling communities into more sustainable
patterns. Far from a mandatory tool to be imposed on planners
and local governments, a transect is a concept originally used
by ecologists to describe distinct natural habitats. As it relates