Case Studies (Flexible Zoning Strategies)

Davis, California, USA – Master Planned Development

In 2013, the City of Davis adopted an ordinance rezoning an area termed "The Cannery" as a 100-acre preliminary planned development area per parameters of the Davis Municipal Code. The Cannery’s stakeholders worked with the City to devise a district with a mix of uses combining retail and commercial services, offices, research and development flex space, and residential, energy-efficiency, sustainable site and building design, multi-generational housing, and alternative transportation measures.

The Cannery prioritizes placemaking and diversifies the allowed relationship of buildings, structures, and open spaces to provide relief from the rigid standards of conventional zoning. The City of Davis Municipal Code requires that the district promote the public health, safety, and general welfare without unduly inhibiting the advantages of modern building techniques and planning. The City’s criteria for which districts are judged and approved includes a mix of housing types for all income levels, creative development of land, more efficient and desirable use of open area, variety in physical development patterns, and utilization of advances in technology which are innovative to land development.

Design Guidelines
Policy & Implementation
The Role of Local Government & Transit First Policies
Guiding Principles of Land Use
Flexible Zoning Strategies
Street Design Implementation
Revising Transportation Analysis Practices
Transportation Demand Management
Rethinking Vehicle Parking Requirements
Parking Management
Best Practices to Attract Successful Developers
Clarifying Design Expectations
Integrating Retail into Transit Oriented Development
Community Planning for Rail Transit
Additional Resources
A photo of multiple four story apartment buildings and a street with a cross walk and median with plants.
The Cannery, Davis, CA (Source: Zoe Pringle)

Mountain View, California, USA – Innovative Development Standards

The City of Mountain View approved the East Whisman Precise Plan in 2019 with special standards requiring that new development maintain a jobs-housing balance within the Precise Plan area. These development standards intend to encourage office and residential developers to complement high-value office space in with a proportional number of residential units. Projects must include approximately 1,000 square feet of office space for every three units of housing, and the residential units must break ground before non-residential buildings are occupied.

In order to ensure that projects will remain feasible with the required residential component, the City’s development standards provide a range of zoning incentives. For example, developers may demolish existing office buildings and sell the rights to that office square footage in order to finance a housing project. While the full outcome of the East Whisman Precise Plan is not yet realized, the Precise Plan provides an example of how innovative development standards can incorporate and further community goals.

An illustration of a precise plan map, showing mixed-use development, open space, and residential zones.
East Whisman Precise Plan, Mountain View, CA (Source: City of Mountain View)