PAS Essential Info Packets

PAS Essential Info Packets offer valuable information on a variety of topics. The PAS researchers carefully develop each packet to ensure quality, relevance, and timeliness. Essential Info Packets represent the type of materials you receive when placing a research request through PAS.

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All PAS Essential Info Packets are now available online!

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If you are not a PAS Subscriber, PAS Essential Info Packets are available for $30 each from the APA Store.

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For Subscribers

For Nonsubscribers

Regulating Holiday Sales Lots (EIP-01)

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Are your local regulations ready for the holiday season? From September to July, communities across the country are bustling with a variety of holiday festivities. Don't dampen the season with dated pumpkin, Christmas tree, and fireworks sales lot regulations. This updated PAS Essential Info Packet contains a colorful sampling of ordinances, information sheets, and applications, providing planners with many alternatives to consider for hours of operation, site design, and permitting requirements for these temporary uses. 

Regulating Contentious Commercial Uses (EIP-02)

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When it comes to public controversy, not all commercial uses are created equal. Many communities have a demand for sexually oriented businesses, payday loan stores, liquor stores, pawnshops, gun stores, tattoo shops, and massage parlors. However, the negative perceptions and potential secondary impacts, whether actual or imagined, associated with these contentious uses have led to a range of local regulatory responses. How does your community regulate these commercial uses? This PAS Essential Info Packet includes excerpts from APA publications along with sample zoning and licensing requirements from cities and counties large and small. Take a look to see how some jurisdictions employ use-specific standards to quell controversy.

Improving the Development Review Process (EIP-03)

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Re-examining your development review process? This updated PAS Essential Info Packet is a must for planners who are either contemplating or in the process of changing their development review process. The packet contains many invaluable resources, starting with a classic APA guidebook on streamlining all stages of the review process. A development review toolkit provides recommendations for short- and long-term improvements as well as performance measures to track overall effectiveness and customer satisfaction. Audit reports from several municipalities evaluating their development review processes let you learn from other planning departments seeking to improve their performance. Finally, a collection of development guidebooks shows how to provide the public with the information they need to successfully navigate the development review process.

Promoting Ground-Floor Retail in Mixed Use Districts (EIP-04)

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Trying to get the right mix of retail, office, and residential uses in your commercially oriented mixed use districts? A number of communities are moving towards a zoning-by-floor approach, sometimes called "horizontal" zoning, which promotes ground-floor retail to maintain an active, vibrant street life and restricts professional and residential uses to the second floor or higher. Whether you are looking to add mixed use districts with ground-floor retail to your zoning code or want to tweak existing code language, this updated PAS Essential Info Packet offers staff reports, model codes and design guidelines, and a substantial collection of sample ordinances addressing ground-floor retail in commercial mixed use districts.

Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (EIP-06)

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Is your community grappling with digital signage and its many forms?  No longer limited to Times Square and Las Vegas, these signs can be found in neighborhood commercial districts, highway corridors, and suburbs. Be they called LED or digital billboards, dynamic displays, electronic message centers, or video signs, their potentially flashing, fast-moving displays could have a serious impact on the built environment in your community. This updated PAS Essential Info Packet includes a selection of reports addressing the legal, safety, and environmental issues associated with digital signage and features a substantial compilation of sample ordinances from communities large and small. 

Inclusionary Housing (EIP-07)

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How affordable is your community? Do you have enough affordable housing to meet present and future needs? Can the teachers, firefighters, retail employees, and other workers who serve your community afford to live there? Would inclusionary housing help? Learn more about this popular, but often controversial set of tools in this Essential PAS Info Packet. This updated collection features various background materials culled from APA publications — as well as successful inclusionary housing regulations throughout the United States. These ordinances represent a diverse range of cities and illustrate some best practices for providing housing that is affordable to all residents.

Temporary Portable Outdoor Storage Units (EIP-08)

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Dealing with construction, moving, or spring cleaning? These activities often create a need for temporary portable storage containers, also known as PODS — containers about the size of a small garden shed that can be rented by the month and stored in front yards, driveways, and parking spaces. Are your zoning regulations ready for this type of temporary use? Don't let temporary portable storage containers overstay their welcome and become rusty eyesores in the front yards of your neighborhoods. This updated PAS Essential Info Packet contains sample ordinances and staff reports showcasing a variety of methods for regulating these uses, including standards for number of units, duration of stay, and siting restrictions.

Regulating Temporary Summer Uses (EIP-09)

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Are your regulations ready for summer sales and events such as garage sales, farmers markets, sidewalk cafes, and carnivals? While these uses are temporary, they can overstay their welcome in communities without adequate regulations for parking, hours of operation, signage, and other important factors. This updated packet contains sample regulations, guidebooks, and permit applications for many types of summer temporary uses — from flea markets to sidewalk vendors — to help planners assure that summer festivities don't turn into neighborhood nuisances.

Regulating Large-Scale Retail (EIP-10)

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Can big box retailers co-exist in harmony with small, downtown merchants? Before answering that question, planners and public officials must first take a close look at the size, location, design, and economic and social impact of any new large-scale retail development. This PAS Essential Info Packet contains a comprehensive set of materials designed to assist you in addressing this issue. You'll find background resources discussing common regulatory approaches, sample impact studies, and examples of local plans, development standards, and design guidelines to help your community deal with the potential impacts of some of America's biggest retailers.

Green Building Policies and Programs (EIP-13)

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Does your community have green building regulations in place? As the importance of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly practices becomes increasingly recognized, a growing number of local governments have instituted green building programs. This updated PAS Essential Info Packet provides background on green building policies and showcases the wide range of green building ordinances and incentives currently in use. Whether voluntary, mandatory, targeted at municipal buildings, or applicable to all development, these sample regulations can help you craft your community's first green building ordinance or fine-tune your existing green building program.

Planning, Public Health, and Physical Activity (EIP-14)

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How can planning be used to encourage a physically active community? How can public health goals be incorporated into comprehensive plans? If you are looking for answers to these questions, this PAS Essential Info Packet is for you. The packet begins with a selection of articles and reports establishing the connection of urban design and the built environment to physical activity and health. It provides guidance on how to collaborate with local public health officials and involve them in community planning processes. Assessment checklists, action strategies, case studies, model ordinances, sample plan language, and online resources will give you the tools you need to ensure that your community is planned and built to promote good health and physical activity for all residents.

Low-Impact Development (EIP-15)

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Is your community tuned in to the environmental and aesthetic value of Low Impact Development (LID)? The goal of this sustainable strategy is to manage rainfall and stormwater at its source, encouraging its infiltration across a project site to slow runoff, filter pollutants, and recharge groundwater supplies. LID uses innovative natural systems along with engineered structures in a flexible, cost-effective, ecologically sound system of onsite stormwater management. This PAS Essential Info Packet contains in-depth reports on LID with numerous case studies of its successful application in a variety of settings. Technical manuals provide details on Best Management Practices such as bioretention, permeable pavement, and cisterns, as well as site design goals and planning strategies. Finally, a collection of sample ordinances demonstrates how communities across the country are integrating LID into their development regulations.   

Enhancing Urban Food Systems (EIP-16)

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Food is a necessity of life. As planners take an increased interest in the interrelationships among food, land use, transportation, economic development, and public health, questions have emerged. How do planners ensure adequate and equitable access to healthy food? What role can urban agriculture play in food security? How does local food help the economy? What can planners do to help create more sustainable food systems? The answers to those and many other questions are included in this Essential PAS Info Packet. PAS has compiled a variety of articles, reports, and other resources to bring you up to date on planning for the food system. In addition, this packet includes innovative local policies and regulations from communities on the cutting edge of food systems planning.

Design Review (EIP-17)

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Increasingly, communities are implementing design guidelines to promote a broad range of goals. Based in historic preservation, design review is now used to support the conservation of neighborhood character, the economic revitalization of downtown cores, the control of big-box retail and franchise architecture, and the implementation of "green" design. Whether you're preparing to implement an all-new design review process or just want to keep abreast of current practices, this PAS Essential Info Packet will provide you with a helpful set of resources. Included are background materials on the establishment of successful design review programs as well as samples of design guidelines tailored to a variety of goals, design review ordinances from communities across the country, and manuals to help guide applicants through the process.

Transit-Oriented Development (EIP-19)

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Is your community considering light rail or bus rapid transit? Do you want to know how to encourage pedestrian-oriented development in transit station areas? Land-use patterns and site development practices have significant effects on the efficiency, convenience, and cost-effectiveness of multi-modal transportation systems. Transit-oriented development (TOD) seeks to create an appropriate mix of uses to maximize transit access and use. This Essential Info Packet provides an overview of how communities around the country are planning for TOD, as well as a wide variety of local plans, policies, and regulations highlighting the cutting-edge in TOD practice.

Teardowns and Mansionization (EIP-20)

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Is your community experiencing an epidemic of residential teardowns and McMansions? Demolishing older houses and replacing them with super-sized homes can affect community character, historic preservation, and housing affordability. Learn more about the teardown phenomenon and what communities are doing to address it in this PAS Essential Info Packet. APA resources and municipal reports provide background information on this trend, and a collection of sample ordinances demonstrates regulatory techniques for combating this issue in your community.

Housing an Aging Population (EIP-21)

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The demographics of America's communities are rapidly changing. As the nation's population grows older, the demand for adequate services and resources for aging in place is quickly increasing. Is your community ready to create livable communities with affordable, appropriate housing and supportive community features for your aging residents? Learn more about the implications of this demographic shift and how communities are planning and zoning to house and support the elderly. This Essential Info Packet provides APA resources, reports, plans, and sample ordinances for a range of senior housing options to help you address this issue in your community.

Planning and Zoning for Rural Character (EIP-22)

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Is your community struggling to preserve its rural character? Recent planning movements have enshrined the characteristics of the traditional village: compact, mixed use, pedestrian-friendly settlements built at a human scale. Yet while these principles have been applied to urban redevelopment and greenfield construction, rural villages themselves are being threatened by sprawling development from nearby metropolitan regions. This Essential Info Packet provides APA publications, reports, and sample ordinances from across the country that can help planners protect existing communities from uncontrolled development while preserving the surrounding open landscape. Topics covered include zoning for village and rural activity centers, transfer of development rights programs, conservation subdivision design, and ridgeline and scenic corridor protection regulations.

A RLUIPA Primer (EIP-23)

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RLUIPA is one acronym all planners should be familiar with. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000 places strict limits on local governments' power to regulate religious land uses. While places of worship have traditionally been welcome by right in most communities, the changing shape of religious practice sometimes creates conflicts. Local governments often struggle to balance legitimate land use concerns with First Amendment rights to free assembly and RLUIPA's provisions. This Essential Info Packet provides a primer on RLUIPA through articles from Planning & Environmental Law and other APA publications. It also provides examples of ordinances that have been crafted in response to this legislation.

Parking Solutions (EIP-24)

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Does your community struggle with parking? Excessive parking requirements increase impervious surface coverage, consume valuable real estate, drive up the cost of housing and redevelopment projects, and subsidize automobile use to the detriment of other transportation modes. Concern is growing among planners and the public alike over these negative impacts. Luckily, a number of tools and strategies can provide alternatives to traditional one-size-fits-all minimum parking requirements. This PAS Essential Info Packet provides articles and reports on the background, importance, and range of parking strategies available to planners. Staff reports and sample ordinances address shared parking, parking in lieu of fees, parking requirement exceptions and reductions, special parking requirements for downtown districts, "green" parking design, permeable pavement, and bicycle parking.

Complete Streets (EIP-25)

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Complete streets are streets that accommodate all users, not just motorists. Over the past several years, communities across the country have embraced a complete streets approach to the planning, design, construction, and operation of new transportation facilities. In this Essential Info Packet, PAS has compiled a variety of articles, reports, and other resources detailing best practices for planning and building complete streets. In addition, this packet includes innovative local policies, design standards, and regulations from communities on the cutting edge of complete streets practice.

Planning and Zoning for Downtown Redevelopment (EIP-26)

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Communities across the country are searching for ways to reinvent downtowns that have experienced disinvestment and deterioration in recent decades. Structural changes in the economy, shifts in development patterns, and evolution of consumer preferences have left many downtowns struggling to retain businesses and attract visitors. Downtown redevelopment is a complex issue that demands a multi-faceted approach. This Essential Information Packet provides a series of articles, reports, and online resources to help guide communities in developing and implementing downtown revitalization strategies. The packet also contains examples of local plans and ordinances written specifically to encourage redevelopment in downtown areas.

Local Broadband Planning (EIP-27)

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The United States has fallen behind many other countries in terms of broadband access and speed. In recent years a number of communities have taken the initiative to improve broadband facilities and access through a wide-range of infrastructure improvements and creative partnerships. Now that the FCC has released Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan, these community broadband initiatives will receive increased attention, some as inspirations and some as cautionary tales. This Essential Information Packet provides a series of articles, reports, and case studies to bring local governments up to speed on the state-of-the-art in broadband planning. The packet also contains examples of local task force recommendations, plan excerpts, and requests for proposals from communities eager to improve local broadband access and capacity.

Outdoor Lighting (EIP-28)

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When you look into the sky at night, can you see the stars? Light pollution is on the rise across the country, resulting in wasted energy, disruption of nocturnal ecosystems, harm to human health, and poor nighttime ambiance. In response, a growing number of communities are adopting outdoor lighting ordinances with "dark sky" principles intended to balance safety issues with the prevention of excessive lighting, light trespass, and glare. This PAS Essential Info Packet provides a look at how communities concerned about light pollution can address outdoor lighting in their policies and regulations. It includes excerpts from comprehensive plans, several model outdoor lighting ordinances with commentaries, and sample outdoor lighting ordinances from municipalities large and small.

Commercial Corridor Revitalization (EIP-29)

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Just as retail strips once drained business from traditional downtowns, now lifestyle centers and other concentrated retailing experiences are leaving a trail of disinvestment along many aging commercial corridors. Revitalizing these strips often requires a deliberate restructuring of the corridor to create spaces that match new market demands and community needs. This PAS Essential Information Packet provides articles and guidebooks showing how communities can use public investments and private development regulations to divide commercial corridors into distinct segments with concentrated nodes of mixed use development. The packet also contains examples of local plans and development regulations written specifically to encourage redevelopment along aging commercial corridors.

Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy: Updated Edition (EIP-30)

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Do your community's plans and ordinances address solar energy systems? As the nation's centers of electricity consumption, cities and counties are uniquely positioned to support economic growth, strengthen America's energy independence, and reduce pollution by converting to solar energy. Planners have important roles to play in making sure their communities' plans and land use regulations allow and encourage this clean, safe energy source. This Essential Info Packet provides an extensive collection of sample ordinances on topics such as solar access, solar siting, and solar energy systems large and small, along with many examples of how communities are adding solar provisions to their comprehensive, subarea, and functional plans. This packet is being made available to all planners and the general public as part of APA's participation in the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Regulating Signs (EIP-31)

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Effective sign control plays an important role in protecting community character, creating a level playing field for local businesses, and enhancing driver safety. Signs influence the public's perception, not just about individual businesses but also about commercial districts and even a community as a whole. However, drafting a sign code can be a legal minefield, and planners must be aware of how the First Amendment and other constitutional principles can affect a sign code's defensibility. This Essential Information Packet provides articles, reports, and guidebooks discussing how communities can steer clear of common legal pitfalls in local sign codes. The packet also contains model sign codes and examples of local sign codes that illustrate the principles of content neutrality and context sensitivity.

Planning and Zoning for Wind Energy (EIP-32)

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How do your community's plans and ordinances address wind energy systems? Not since the 1970s have energy issues consumed as much national attention as today. Climate change and global warming, rising energy costs, and worldwide political instability are problems stemming from our society's overdependence on fossil fuels. Yet clean, abundant sources of energy exist, and interest in wind energy is growing daily. This Essential Info Packet provides an extensive collection of model and sample ordinances for wind energy systems large and small, along with background articles and examples of how communities are adding support for wind energy to their comprehensive plans.

Zoning for Micro-Alcohol Production (EIP-34)

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Does your community's zoning code distinguish between brewpubs, microbreweries, microdistilleries, or microwineries and conventional, high-volume breweries, distilleries, and wineries? The recent resurgence in interest in craft production of beer, distilled spirits, and wine has prompted many localities to add new definitions, use permission, and, in some cases, use-specific standards to their codes in order to sanction  micro-alcohol production facilities in one or more nonindustrial districts. Whether you are looking to make space for a specific type of micro-producer or a wide range of facilities, this new PAS Essential Info Packet offers background, staff reports, and a substantial collection of sample zoning regulations for brewpubs, microbreweries, microdistilleries, and microwineries in nonindustrial districts.

Sustaining Places Practices for Comprehensive Planning (EIP-35)

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This PAS Essential Info Packet serves as a companion piece to Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans (PAS Report No. 578). It provides links to comprehensive plans that incorporate many of the best practices identified through the Sustaining Places initiative, guidance on incorporating various aspects of sustainability into comprehensive plans, and a copy of the Sustaining Places comprehensive plan scoring matrix and definitions for each of the best practices discussed in PAS 578.

Regulating Food Trucks (EIP-36)

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Has the food truck revolution come to your community? Across the country, specialty or gourmet food trucks offer economic development opportunities for both entrepreneurs launching their own businesses and districts seeking to boost vibrancy and culinary variety, but concerns may arise around food safety, neighborhood compatibility, and competition with bricks-and-mortar restaurants. Cities are now adopting zoning and licensing ordinances addressing mobile food vending on public and private properties that attempt to balance these issues. This Essential Info Packet provides an extensive collection of sample zoning and licensing ordinances, along with background articles, staff reports, and local permit guidelines, to show how communities across the country are regulating mobile food units.

Regulating Short-Term Residential Rentals (EIP-37)

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Does your community regulate short-term residential rentals and homestays? The meteoric rise in popularity of online rental platforms such as Airbnb has made this a hot topic. Though beachfront communities and resort towns have long dealt with vacation rentals, other cities are now wondering if they need to address short-term rentals in their zoning codes and licensing provisions. Those that have are taking a number of different approaches, and many have already amended ordinances adopted in the last few years. This Essential Info Packet provides a solid background on the issues surrounding this use with a selection of articles and information about short-term residential rentals, as well as staff reports from communities that have already taken this topic on. Finally, it offers an extensive collection of sample short-term residential rental zoning and licensing ordinances from communities across the country. Whether you want to fine-tune an existing ordinance or explore the options for regulating short-term rentals in your community, this is the EIP for you.