In the fall of 2014, the Cleveland City Planning Commission (CPC) partnered with the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute to host the Best Practices in Zoning Symposium. The event brought together a broad spectrum of public and private stakeholders and engaged them in an in-depth discussion of the challenges to development under the City’s current zoning code and best practices in zoning from around the country. Keynote speaker Jeff Speck took the audience on a deep dive into the principles and mechanics of FBCs as a tool to advance an agenda of sustainability and economic development. The symposium raised the profile of FBCs in Cleveland and began the discussion of a new code for Cleveland. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from the conference the CPC began a two pronged approach to moving forward.
The first was implementing Form Based Code ‘lite’ overlay districts such as the Urban form Overlay (UO), The Urban Core Overlay (UCO) and the New Townhouse Code. The goal was to introduce the principles, vocabulary and efficacy of FBCs to the Cleveland development community, elected officials and residents. These overlays began to define best practices for physical development of Cleveland’s mixed-use districts, provide developers clear and specific guidance on building form and site layout, improve consistency of form and site requirements across the city and reduce the length of time to obtain a building permit.
The second was to begin advocating internally for funds to bring on a consultant to help lead a project that goes beyond just incorporating overlay districts into the existing 1929 code by developing an entirely new code for the City. The Frank G Jackson Administration and City Council approved a budget allocating $175k of Issue 32 dollars to the project. The Cleveland Foundation awarded an additional $50k. With at total budget of $225k the CPC issued an RFP in the spring of 2018.
Code Studio was selected as the lead consultant for the project in early 2019.