Matt Yglesias points to an article about Toronto’s new zoning code. The story is short on details, although the lowering of parking minimums near transit and overall simplification of the code seem like appealing features to Market Urbanists. I did, however, find a blog post from last year about the proposed changes, which has a lot more details. Keep in mind that this is from last year and so it might not still be relevant, but if anyone’s interested in digging a little deeper into the new code, there’s a good place to start.
This part, though, is not very encouraging:
The new zoning also takes a more coherent approach to minimum parking provisions, requiring a lot less parking for condos/apartments or office buildings that are in the downtown core or on heavy transit lines. Many new projects don’t need the amount of parking required by zoning, and developers would be glad not to pay the extra cost to provide it. But the overall reduction in minimum parking requirements is disappointingly limited — the planner in charge of the project, Joe D’Abramo, estimated it at about 10% less compared to previous requirements.
There also seems to be a lot of New Urbanist-style regulation – for example, making it more difficult to build drive-thrus and driveways – that we don’t necessarily support. When you look at the revisions as a whole I doubt that there’s more urban-forcing than urban-allowing, but I do wish that they’d work harder on repealing things like parking minimums and density restrictions before trying mandate density. Even if the mandatory New Urbanist regulations are minor, they give ammo to people like Randal O’Toole and the Cato/Reason bunch to claim that urbanism is being forced down people’s throats rather than simply being allowed. New Urbanist planners might not have faith in the market to build densely if left to its own devices, but we do.