Land Development Code Requirements
Friendly * Slow Speed * Affordable * Familiar * Human Scaled * Car Light * Place-Making * Walkable * Inclusive
Aerial View of the Ideal Community in Boulder Colorado
as of August 9, 2019
The Form-Based Code for the Ideal Community emphasizes the form of the Ideal Community by specifying the appropriate and desirable building placements, street dimensions, and building materials.
Boulder currently has an over-abundance of drivable suburban households that exceed the demand for such households, and an under-supply of walkable urban households that is far below the demand for such households. This will be a particularly acute problem going forward, given the substantial demand for such housing by the Millennial Generation and the growing climate change crisis. Boulder’s current housing stock is so overwhelmingly tilted toward the drivable housing option that it is quite ill-prepared to face the future in a sustainable, affordable, adaptable way.
The following are code requirements for the Ideal Community that employ time-tested principles for creating a successful walkable, lovable, affordable, adaptable, sustainable neighborhood.
The overall layout is compact, human-scaled, slow-speed and walkable.
An overriding design imperative for the Ideal Community, as implied by the urban transect principle outlined below, is that one size does not fit all. Therefore, this code requires that requirements such as the landscaping code, parking code, and setback requirements be relaxed in the Ideal Community as an essential means of achieving critical community objectives.
Urban Transect Designation for Context
The Ideal Community is located within the Urban Center Zone in the above figure.
Examples of 3-, 4-, and 5-Stories in Boulder
3-Story Uptown neighborhood in North Boulder
Washington Village neighborhood a few blocks north of the Ideal Community
Washington Village 3-Story Frontage
Buildings are clad in context-appropriate brick, stone, and wood. Such cladding is contextual, as it matches the traditional styles of the Mapleton Hill neighborhood.
Size of Residential Units
There is no minimum size for a residential unit.
Maximum building height is 3 stories on the west side and 5 stories on its east side of the Ideal Community. A pitched roof that does not contain habitable space is exempt from the measurement of building height. Obelisks and clock towers are also exempt from height limits.
Residential Porches and Stoops
Residential buildings fronting a public street must include a front porch or stoop.
Building Alignment and Orientation
Building placement is square to streets and squares rather than rotated. The main entrance of buildings shall be on the first floor on the more primary street
Front Yard Building Setbacks
Buildings shall abut the streetside sidewalk. The build-to line is 10 feet from the streetside sidewalk curb. There is no side or rear setback.
Adopt an Architectural Pattern Book
In the past, pattern books were indispensable to builders, and there has been a revival in the use of such books in recent decades. In contrast to codes, which mostly attempt to regulate such things as bulk, density, and electrical requirements, pattern books try to set out a vision that each designer and developer of buildings in the neighborhood will follow. Pattern books relate the overall goals of a community or a development to the details the architects and contractors must master: placement of buildings on their lots, positioning of driveways and garages, selection of roof slopes, configuration of porches, proportions and dimensions of windows and doors, and so on. A Pattern Book enables builders and architects of only moderate talent to create streets and buildings that harmonize with each other. In part, the Pattern Book for the Ideal Community is based on a Visual Preference Survey of Boulder residents.
Mixed Housing Types
Accessory dwelling units[i] are allowed, as are [list allowable housing types here]. Higher numbers of unrelated adults are allowed to live together. Co-ops are also allowed.
Walls and Fencing
Brick, masonry, wood, fieldstone, stucco, or wrought-iron are required for walls and fencing. Chain-link is prohibited.
First floors of buildings along sidewalks provide ample windows. Between 3 feet above grade and 8 feet above grade on the first floor of building walls facing a sidewalk, windows shall cover at least 30 percent of this area. Windows must be vertically-oriented.
More Examples of Building Height
Streets and Parking
Overall street geometries are slow-speed geometries. Streets are curbed and rectilinear in trajectory. All streets are two-way. Some streets are narrow enough to be “give-way streets.”[ii] Give-way streets, slow streets, walking streets, and woonerfs are all acceptable street designs. Continuous left-turn lanes, one-way streets, cul de sacs, dead-end streets, and slip lanes are not allowed.
Streets are required to use square curbs and gutters.
Bulb-outs are frequently used to not only slow motor vehicles but shorten crossing distances for pedestrians.
20 to 30 feet curb to curb-to-curb. Travel lane width no wider than 10 feet.
Street trees are abundant. Tree species diversity shall be provided for between street blocks, not within blocks. Within street blocks, street trees shall be of the same species. Street trees have a large enough canopy to shade streets and are formally aligned in straight lines.
Street lights shall be no more than 10 feet in height and are full cut-off.
Turning Curb Radius
The smallest practical actual turning curb radii shall be used based on how the effective curb radius accommodates the design vehicle. An actual curb radius of 5 to 10 feet should be used wherever possible.
High levels of permeability between the Ideal Community and abutting neighborhoods shall be provided. Connector streets and walkways shall be created on the east, west, north and south boundaries between the Ideal Community and its neighbors, rather than being a “separate island.”
A destination shall be considered permeable if it can easily be reached by the full range of transportation choices, which implies many connections to adjacent neighborhoods by streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, and crosswalks. The Ideal Community must be permeable by being easy to reach by foot, bicycle, by transit, and by car.
Block Face Length
Block lengths shall be no more than 200 to 400 feet in length. If they must be longer, mid-block “cross-access” paths or alleys shall be created to create a block no more than 400 feet in length.
Sidewalks must be 7 to 10 feet in width. Shops along the street are encouraged to use canopies, colonnades, arcades, and balconies, and these features are allowed to encroach over the right of way. Café seating, tables, and A-Framed signs are allowed on sidewalks. Street furniture should be low maintenance and high durability. Street trees shall be planted in tree wells within the sidewalk right of way.
Outdoor Mechanical Equipment
Outdoor mechanical equipment includes outdoor heating, air conditioning, and ventilation equipment. All outdoor mechanical equipment must be placed on the roof, in the rear or side of the building, or otherwise visually screened from the street. In no case shall outdoor mechanical equipment shall never be allowed along street frontage(s). Outdoor mechanical equipment on the roof shall be screened from abutting streets with parapets or other types of visual screening
No parking is required. Maximum parking allowed is the minimum parking previously required for this zoning district. Any installed bicycle parking is required to use Inverted-U design, and such parking is allowed to encroach into the sidewalk right of way.
Parking shall be located in structured parking garages (and on-street parking). Structured parking garages must be wrapped with housing, retail, office, or a combination of such uses. On-street parking is abundant and either priced or used only by permit. Revenue from parking pricing is dedicated to improvements within the Ideal Community. No off-street surface parking is allowed, nor are there any minimum parking requirements. Fee-in-lieu of parking is provided for. Leased parking is available in the structured parking garage. Shared parking between property owners is permitted.
The price of parking shall be unbundled from the price of housing in the Ideal Community.
First floors of buildings are not appropriate places for the parking of cars. Available parking is modest in quantity and hidden away from the street.
Signs used by businesses are kept relatively small in size. Downtown Boulder sign regulations are required.
Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
Required Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is at least 2.0.
Increase the number of houses above 300 units. [Minimum and maximum residential density to be determined.]
Relatively small offices and retail shops are allowed. Residences above shops are allowed.
When feasible, civic buildings or other structures with strong verticality are used to terminate street vistas.
Auto Dealers, Auto Service, and Limited Auto Services.
Gas Service Stations.
Parking Lots as the principal use, other than structured garage parking.
Outdoor Storage as the principal use.
Freestanding retail greater than 30,000 square feet in first floor area.
Gasoline pumps when accessory to a Food Store.
Lot Size and Width
[To be determined. This should be relatively small, human-scaled dimensions.]
Articulated Instead of Blank Walls
[Covered by window requirements?]
All solid waste, recycling, yard trash containers (except litter containers), and grease containers, shall be placed at the side or the rear of the building and attached to that building with an enclosing wall so that it is not visible from the street. The enclosing wall shall not exceed 7 feet in height, and shall be finished or painted with the same material as is used on the building. The enclosing wall shall be fitted with an opaque sliding or hinged door and working latch. Loading docks shall be placed at the side or rear of the building and shall be screened from the street. If the building is residential only, these containers shall be located in parking areas or in a location remote from the streetside sidewalk. When in a parking area, solid waste, recycling, and yard trash containers (except litter containers), and grease containers shall be located in that part of the parking area furthest from the streetside sidewalk, or at least 20 feet from a streetside sidewalk. These containers shall be screened to minimize sound to and visibility from abutting streets or residences.
Operating Hours for Allowed Businesses
Businesses, such as offices, close no earlier than 7 pm.
[i] ADUs, but also called ancillary units, granny flats, carriage houses, or outbuildings.
[ii] Such streets have a width that obligates motor vehicles to “give-way” to an oncoming vehicle in order to enable pass by.