After six years and 242 public meetings, the Buffalo Common Council unanimously approved the Unified Development Ordinance, otherwise known as the Green Code, December 27.
Buffalo became the third major US city to adopt a form-based code (FBC) for the entire city, after Miami and Denver. Many other cities and towns have adopted FBCs for portions of the municipality—the Codes Study counts 362. The Green Code, like other form codes, focuses on regulating urban form rather than separation of uses. In doing so, these codes are designed to improve the public realm—making it more human-scale and pedestrian friendly.
Buffalo's code breaks new ground in that it eliminates minimum off-street parking requirements citywide. "Many cities have selectively eliminated minimum parking requirements, such as Rochester, which eliminated them downtown. But Buffalo will be the first in the United States to eliminate minimum parking requirements citywide," reports The Buffalo News. It will stop forcing developers to build parking lots that damage walkability and let the market decide how much parking to provide.
The Green Code strips away layers of bureaucratic barnacles that have accumulated for 63 years, when the previous code was written. A "goal was to make the code understandable to the average person on the street. The simplified, 338-page document includes numerous graphics so people can apply the words to the images. The current code is some 1,802 pages, more than five times larger," explains The Buffalo News.