Preserving our past, protecting our future, with the right rules.

The UDC is a countywide rezoning effort to bring clarity to our process and consistency to the character of new development.

The important thing about making rules is that we should design them to do a lot more than just restrict things we don’t want. They should also make things we do want a lot easier.

Thanks to all the work that’s already gone into the Viva Doña Ana regional planning project, we’re getting a pretty good idea about what citizens and leaders of Doña Ana County want. See, for instance, the summary of regional data in this May, 2013 “Snapshot” report (PDF6.7mb) and evolving topics from an early public discussion (PDF3mb) and at the March round of Mobile Workshops (PDF1.2mb).

The region needs better connections between jobs, housing and transportation. There’s awareness that there’s likely to be an increasing need to pay more attention to efficient uses of energy, water and other resources. And there are concerns about affordability for families across all income levels.

All of those topics connect directly to the Livability Principles the broader Viva Doña Ana process addresses.

But how can rules that guide future development, the sort of rules typically found in zoning and subdivision regulations, support those Principles?

We can start with thinking about how all these topics — the ones emerging from the Viva Doña Ana outreach process and the ones embodied in the Livability Principles — are interconnected. They have to be addressed in comprehensive ways that prioritize connectivity, as opposed to the ways conventional zoning codes separate housing, shopping, schools, workplaces and other daily destinations. Here (PDF2.2mb) is a quick overview of how the UDC team is using a state-of-the-art coding template called a SmartCode, then customizing it to fit the character of the particular places we want to preserve or emulate.

By early in 2014, the UDC team will have collaborated with citizens and leaders in the region to craft a regulatory framework that addresses their priorities. An initial draft, based on the community discussions that have come before, will be tested and refined in September during a weeklong series of local meetings (see Process Timeline on the homepage for details), then tweaked for “Roadshow” presentations and further refinements in each community.

Keep an eye on this website for opportunities to participate. And use the space at the end of each UDC Diary posting to offer comments and questions.