Miami has found its magic again. With the approval of Miami 21 in 2009, it accomplished an unprecedented feat and became the first major city to adopt a form-based code. With the motto, Your city, Your plan, Miami’s experiment is a solitary example of the importance of public support through outreach and marketing. Thanks to Miami 21, the city is emerging from a crippling recession in a stronger position than before. May 20th marks three years since its implementation. Miami 21 has improved several aspects of our quickly-growing city.
Urban Infill. The former land-use code, a conventional ‘Euclidean’ model, forced inappropriate separation between live, learn, work, and play. This horizontal form of development pushed city-wide car dependency – leaving gaps and vacancies in countless communities. The Miami 21 initiative opened doors to mixed-use development, achieved by basing zoning less on land use and more on the physical form. Infilling these once underused properties has increased the value of these communities.
Density. The last two decades swarmed Miami with towering development in many communities – resulting in an over-built downtown and large high-rise condominiums across a neighborhood street from a humble one-story single family home. Miami 21 provided the necessary density transition, while molding the recent development boom into the correct areas: transportation corridors, MetroRail stations, neighborhood centers, and urban cores.
Pedestrian Experience. The previous code left scars of hostile environments for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles, as it catered to the car-dependent culture. Both residents and tourists (a core industry in Miami) are thankful that the basis of Miami 21 is human-scaled development. Recent construction across the city hugs the sidewalk, conceals parking, and fosters livability for each neighborhood by providing everyday conveniences within easier reach.
Though unfortunate compromises were made, such as high parking requirements, a shortage of medium density areas, and the possible neglect of important public space/buildings – these issues will be tackled in the coming years. Receiving numerous awards, Miami 21 is quickly improving for the vitality and livability of our city.
What other major cities are working towards rewriting their zoning code into sustainable environments?
Credits: Photographs by Jennifer Garcia. Data linked to sources.