Avoiding Common Form-Based Code Mistakes, Part 2

Zoning Practice — June 2013

By Daniel Parolek


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Part one focused on misconceptions and common mistakes related to the practice of form-based coding. It also reinforced that form-based coding represents a paradigm shift in zoning and should not be thought of as simply a way to refine a Euclidean zoning ordinance.

This issue of Zoning Practice continues the previous issue's discussion of common form-based coding mistakes, this time focusing on how a lack of planning can undermine a form-based coding effort and taking a closer look at how use permissions and development standards need to be recalibrated to ensure that a new form-based code produces the desired results.


Page Count
Date Published
June 1, 2013
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Daniel Parolek
Daniel Parolek is an urban designer and architect, author, who was voted one of the "Top 100 Urbanists: Past and Present" in 2023. He is the founding principal of Opticos Design, a B Corporation focused on equitable urban placemaking, innovative housing design and policy, and zoning reform for walkable urbanism. Daniel and his work have been featured in many high-profile publications including The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Next City, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and Curbed. Daniel has championed the Missing Middle Housing movement, launched missingmiddlehousing.com, and wrote the book “Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis.” As a thought leader in zoning reform efforts to remove barriers for walkable urbanism, Daniel co-authored the book “Form-Based Codes: A Guide for Planners, Urban Designers, Municipalities, and Developers,” with Karen Parolek and Paul C. Crawford (named one of Planetizen’s best books in 2009), and co-founded the non-profit think tank, the Form-Based Code Institute. His innovative work is diverse across public and private sector clients and includes the master plan, building type design, and architecture for Culdesac Tempe, which will be the largest car-free community in the country when complete, the country’s first Missing Middle Neighborhood in the Omaha, NE metro, which is redefining Class A multifamily, a downtown form-based code for Mesa, AZ that has delivered over $500 million in private sector investment in downtown, and a sustainable growth strategy for Libreville, the capital city of Gabon, Africa. Daniel is a frequent presenter and recently served as a board member of Transform. He has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Urban Design from the University of California at Berkeley. Daniel is inspired by international travel, especially in Italy. The seeds of his passion for walkable urban places started while he was growing up in the small town of Columbus, Nebraska.