City Rules

October 15, 2012

If we think of cities as organisms, their DNA is the hodgepodge of rules that shape development. Urban planner Emily Talen talks about how city zoning, coding and laws got started, and how they need to be changed to help us build more livable cities.

Take a look at a visual archive of city plans.



Who says only a dense city is walkable? My parents both grew up in small towns, in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with single-family homes and good-sized yards for raising fruit, vegetables, and animals. Both my grandfathers walked to work, my grandmothers walked to the stores, and my parents walked to school.

I grew up in Phoenix in the 70s and walked or bike to school and nearby stores, or took the bus to the mall or library. My parents sometimes drove, sometimes took the bus to work. My parents still live in the same neighborhood, with the same accessibility. I found I needed a car when I attended college in an adjacent town since, at the time, there was no or poor bus service to the various small towns around Phoenix. More recently, I lived in one of those small towns and drove to work because I couldn't afford to live near my job in Phoenix, and there wasn't bus service between. Increasing density in the desert would be folly, and wouldn't solve affordability issues. In fact, it would more likely exacerbate them.