“Many local businesses that we once loved and enjoyed pre-COVID may not make it through this struggle unless local governments do their part to lift some of the stifling zoning restrictions that are often in place, and that quite frankly might not make sense any more moving forward” writes CODE STUDIO.
Covid19 has changed the world we live in and things may never be the same. We need a holistic view of how our cities work and how we will continue to use them. Urban planning and zoning can play a role in that. Urban planning is the technical and political process which incorporates the design and regulation of the built environment, including air, water and the infrastructure like transit, communications and distribution networks. And zoning is what is used to regulate urban plans.
Cities have to adapt quickly, and many are questioning what they can do to help the economy get back on its feet. Here are a few temporary and permanent suggestions for changes to zoning that will ease the pain.
Parking lots become outdoor dining
We all know that restaurants are suffering financially. Social distancing means that smaller establishments just aren’t viable right now since they can’t seat enough customers. Why not let them expand into carparks and open spaces like Vilnius has?
Pop-up retail to activate sidewalks
Most local governments restrict the use of sidewalks and parking lots by requiring permits. Since businesses can’t overcrowd their stores right now, why not remove those restrictions temporarily and help those businesses to survive.
Lots of signage
Cities generally have strict signage rules. But right now, signage lets everyone know if a business is open. Cities should encourage signage that may have been restricted in the past. Businesses need to find new ways to advertise and to let people know they’re open.
Less car parking and more bike parking
Read about why parking minimums are disastrous, listen to why Donald Shoup thinks we should eliminate them and read about how cars waste space. With cities closing streets to cars and expanding sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, businesses don’t need all those car spaces. They need bike parking instead. Let’s encourage the conversion of some of those car spaces into more space for bikes.
Encourage local business
While big box stores were struggling to provide enough toilet paper for a panicked public, local stores were often better stocked. And even better, these small stores are often close enough to walk to so you don’t need to drive or park your car. Most zoning laws don’t permit corner stores in existing neighborhoods (like they used to), but they should. Read how zoning can encourage mixed income communities.
Encourage home businesses
Many of us are working from home right now, but did you know that this might actually be illegal? That’s going to have to change. Why not create zoning regulations that encourage home businesses, including allowing employees and activity in accessory units like garages? There might even be some old commercial buildings not in use in established neighborhoods which could once again serve their original purpose.
Many cities restrict growing vegetables or raising chickens in your front or back yard. Panic buying has shown us the importance of food security. Growing your own produce is not only be rewarding but can add a little security.
Make more open space
The need for open space in our lives is a lesson we’ve all learned the hard way. We’ve missed using our plazas, trails and parks. With the advent of social distancing we’re realizing that we need eve more open space. Zoning regulations should require more public and private open space in the future. Read how Barcelona did it and where to find land for open spaces.
Read the original article here.
Image by John D Norton