Throughout much of 2019, Smart Growth America’s LOCUS team worked hand-in-hand with six Massachusetts communities to harness Opportunity Zone investments to benefit rather than displace their residents, and result in walkable, mixed-use communities with a variety of employment and housing options for everyone. We spent a day earlier this month going overall we learned in a public event in Boston earlier this month.
Whether responding to growing demands for attainable housing, making streets safer in the face of a record number of people killed while walking, or seeking to improve inequities after decades of disinvestment in marginalized neighborhoods, the role of community builders today can be challenging—and contested. But it’s far too easy for local elected officials and planners to default to doing nothing when confronted with challenges or people who vehemently oppose change. When soliciting community involvement and feedback it should not be a matter of if something changes, but how, and whose voices are heard.
A century of traditional land-use practices has ingrained inequities deep into communities across America. We’ve produced sprawling, auto-oriented development that has also separated people based on wealth, ethnicity, and race. Form-based zoning is well-positioned to compliment equity-driven public policies, while also enabling walkable, human-scaled development that residents and businesses love.
How can cities and towns maximize the positive impact of their Opportunity Zones? The answer is different for every community, and that’s why LOCUS and Smart Growth America are offering tailored technical assistance to six Massachusetts communities in the first-of-its-kind Massachusetts Opportunity Zones Academy.
Looking back at 100-plus submissions for the Driehaus Form-Based Codes Award over the years reveals how the practice of form-based coding has matured and evolved. The quality of submissions has improved since the early years and municipal planning staff are increasingly engaged in drafting codes for their communities. It’s clear that form-based codes are growing in popularity and in many contexts they are being paired with policies to achieve more equitable development.