On Tuesday, December 27, New York’s Buffalo Common Council unanimously passed the United Development Ordinance, also known as the Buffalo Green Code.
The code aims to shift the city’s transportation focus from cars to walkability. It eliminates minimum parking standards and aesthetic standards for parking lots, as well as making provisions for broadening sidewalks, and adding green spaces, all with the aim of creating a more enjoyable experience.
The Buffalo Green Code website states it was “designed to reinforce the City’s walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and strengthen its economic centers.” Brendan Mehaffy, executive director of the Office of Strategic Planning, told The Buffalo News “There was little appreciation of our historic neighborhoods and even buildings. This code adjusts to the city’s historic form.”
Buffalo hopes to move from a suburban model of development to a progressively urban model. “Sprawl is, in fact, the legally required outcome under our current zoning code, and under the new code, mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods will be the default development option,” said Chris Hawley, a city planner in Mayor Byron Brown’s Office of Strategic Planning, to the Sustainable City Network. In addition to reducing light pollution, bringing older structures back into code, and protecting old trees, the code makes a wide range of new elements permissible, including chalkboard signs on sidewalks, residential wind turbines, open-air markets, artisan industrial programming, and rooftop-mounted PV panels.