How the Code Addresses Adverse Impacts
Minimize Adverse Impacts
The code is designed to minimize adverse impacts on existing single-family neighborhoods by providing protections for existing development according to the future land use vision crafted by the community and codified in the Regulating Plan. The draft legislation includes purpose and intent statements that address adverse impacts and compatibility, and addresses impacts throughout the code. See for example the “Neighborhood Manners” section of the draft legislation which includes limitations on which types of buildings can be next to which; limitations on heights for any building adjacent to existing single-family neighborhoods; and requirements for the “edge” portions of the urban centers.
Community involvement will be critical during this process, but we should keep in mind that some impacts (e.g. traffic, noise, lights, smells, etc) are a concern wherever any development occurs. A certain amount of impact is unavoidable. There are trade-offs for bringing new amenities to a community, growing in a more environmentally and fiscally responsible way, and an increased and diversified tax base. Some impacts can be mitigated through proper planning and zoning, while other issues are related to the behavior of residents and tenants and must be handled through other authorities and via code enforcement.
Impacts are typically evaluated during the development review process, and this is somewhat expanded in the proposed legislation by the incorporation of the Regulating Plan, functional overlays, and the processes by which these are created and implemented. The careful application and customization of the code through the creation of the Regulating Plan should anticipate any potential adverse impacts that could be related to building form, placement, and use of future development.
Minimize Environmental Impacts
The code will ensure that development will minimize environmental impacts to the fullest extent possible by requiring an environmental infrastructure functional overlay prior to the creation of a Regulating Plan. This overlay will analyze numerous environmental factors to both ensure that impacts are minimized, and to delineate areas which can be preserved or enhanced to, for instance, maximize stormwater infiltration while also providing required park or civic space. In addition, at the time of permit site plan review, an applicant must have a complete, signed Natural Resources Inventory that provides additional site-by-site information to better inform environmental review and any needed mitigation required under other laws and regulations.
It is worth recalling the broader environmental and Smart Growth goals which motivated the creation of the Urban Centers and Corridor Nodes Development Code in the first place. The code is intended to streamline and facilitate the development of high-quality, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented communities in selected centers and corridor nodes. This development pattern will go far toward achieving the goals laid out in the General Plan for reduced reliance on the automobile as the only means of transportation, for efficient use of existing infrastructure, and to enhance the gains to sustainability that come from each of these factors. Finally, one cannot know that a development has caused adverse environmental impacts until after it is built (or sometimes during construction, if proper construction procedures are violated), so this becomes an enforcement authority question rather than a zoning issue.