Every city’s zoning code has to balance tensions between two fundamental desires—the desire for order and the desire for neighborhood character.
We express the desire for order when we say things like “it’s only fair that people in one part of the city with the same zoning shouldn’t have more rights than people in another part,” or “it’s too confusing if people in my neighborhood, whose property is zoned the same as mine, are playing by a different set of rules than the ones people elsewhere are trying to follow.” But when we say, “the rules should acknowledge differences in neighborhood character,” or “it’s not appropriate to prescribe cookie-cutter solutions,” we’re talking about a desire for diversity.
The draft Zoning Update tries to balance these competing goals in a number of ways. First, the draft code sets out a number of “General Rules” that apply citywide. In general, questions like “how large should a loading berth be?” should have the same answers, no matter where you are in the city. As best as we can, we’ve tried to answer those kinds of questions in the General Rules, so everyone has a standard set of rules to follow.