Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It

By: M. Nolan Gray

Meeting Date: August 2, 2023 6:30 PM

“Arbitrary Lines” is about the damage done to cities and neighborhoods by zoning.

The “big ideas” for Urban Atlanta:

  • Zoning has damaged cities and harmed neighborhoods in numerous ways. But after a century of zoning, we do not think it likely that we will end zoning in Urban Atlanta. We might, however, reform it.
  • There are a number of “achievable reforms” that local governments should consider, from allowing attached urban dwellings in all neighborhoods to ending floor area ratios and parking requirements. We should also allow multifamily housing and neighborhood retail in walking distance of transit stations.
  • To go beyond these modest changes, we need parts of Urban Atlanta to demonstrate the benefits of zoning reform. We have a suggestion of how this can be achieved.
  • For any of this to happen, we need effective advocacy organizations to explain to citizens how zoning has harmed cities and neighborhoods and to build coalitions for reform.