Instruments for User Impacted Space

By Andrew Tran

bcFELLOWs declare a public interest area for study. Themes such as density, connectivity, public space, practice, equity or others are explored.  Over the course of the fellowship year, each Fellow will share discoveries made during their investigations with final work published for public benefit.

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How can the effects of city regulations and zoning code on urban form be better understood such that they promote open space and improve place quality?

This is a topic that I have been interested in and touched upon in my thesis during my undergraduate studies.  As a member of an ethnic community in Orange County, CA, I have witnessed the effects of when regulations restrict certain phenomenon from occurring such as individual expression of commercial property and communal use of privately owned public space.  However, I have also experienced the benefits of regulations when they promote public space that result in human interaction.

Historically, zoning in its conception was seen as an innovative methodology to organize drastically growing cities.  However, the complexities of present urban conditions in conjunction with the difficulty for landowners to develop their property has given zoning regulations a negative reputation as they are often perceived as restrictions and barriers to development.  This is largely due to the complexities in the zoning process  and the code itself.  These negative connotations result from an unclear understanding of the relationship between the intent of a regulation and its impact on urban form.

The intent of this study is not to discount the implementation of city regulations, but rather it is to critically understand the effects of these regulations as originally conceived and the effects they could have.  More specifically, this study will investigate regulatory measures as it affects place quality within the context of connectivity and private economic development as it relates to public benefit.  Based on the assessment of these issues, how have regulatory measures in Dallas impacted a neighborhood’s ability to perform socially, environmentally and economically?  Additionally, how can regulations become a significant tool used by urban planners and designers to produce urban form that is inclusive and connected?

In addition to the effects of regulations on urban form, regulations that govern processes such as licensure and permitting are highly complex and can often prevent citizens from successfully developing their property.  As this project seeks to identify methods in which regulations can be positioned to promote public design, it will explain these processes in a graphical manner that will enhance comprehension.

Andrew Tran, a 2012 bcFELLOW, has roots in Southern California and Arizona, and is interested in graphic media, ethnic food and outdoor activities such as hiking and biking.