SmartCode NOW! (Overcoming Some Misconceptions)

Barry Watkins 7/2/15


Public Participation at SmartCode Workshop (

A few years ago, I became a huge fan of the SmartCode, the New Urbanist Model Land Development Code. I went to a 3-day workshop down in South Beach Miami. Andres Duany and his wife Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk were there along with a host of other prominent New Urbanists talking about the ins and outs of the SmartCode – why it’s written the way it is and how to get it to work for local cities and counties. Since then the excitement that started in me at that workshop has continued to grow. I’m continually researching all the latest thoughts in city planning and monitor the successes and failures of planning efforts all over the world. One thing remains. I believe in the SmartCode! This thing really works, people! It’s being adopted and used in more and more communities all around the world every day, and it’s doing its job – making walkable places! We need to adopt the SmartCode for Brevard County and in every city in our county RIGHT NOW!!!


Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk

Legitimate Challenges

There may be some legitimate challenges to getting the SmartCode adopted in Brevard County. It’s a radical shift for us. People don’t understand it. There’s no money in our city and county budgets for a major code change right now. There’s no money for sidewalks! Ha, you know I’ve heard people say a few of these things. I even had a hard-core New Urbanist Planner tell me we don’t really need the SmartCode, we can just use PUD‘s to get the job done! Let me speak to a few of these.


  1. It’s a radical shift for us. Yes, of course it’s radical. Sadly, we need basically a 180-degree turn away from the way we have been building and coding things. That’s precisely why we need it so desperately! A less radical solution will produce half-way results and that’s not what we need. However, even though it is designed to bring big, positive, long-term changes, the model code is written in such a way that we can implement those changes in ways that are gradual and blend nicely with existing development.
  2. confused1People don’t understand it. Actually, one of the strengths of the SmartCode is that it’s simple! It can outdo the work of a conventional code using a fraction of the number of pages in your code book. It’s written so that it covers most things you would ever need to cover in your Land Development Code, but it does it very efficiently. When people get over the hurdle of understanding some of the basic principles of the code it becomes very easy to understand the details. There will be an “ah-ha” moment that people generally need to reach when the code is explained to them. After that hurdle is crossed, the rest is actually much easier to understand than the average conventional Code. Lay people can understand it, and your planning staff will love it because it’s simple and easy to administrate. In the long run, your administrative time and costs will be lower with the SmartCode.
  3. There’s no money in our budget for a major code change. Check this out. The SmartCode will cost you nothing at all to adopt and implement. No money needed! Ok, you need to budget for a few public meetings and some staff time for training and administration, but for most places these minor expenses can actually be covered easily no-moneywith nothing beyond your ordinary operating budget. As the point was made above, the code is much simpler to understand and administrate than your conventional code, so in the long run the more it’s used the lower your administrative costs will be. It’s going to save you money, not cost you!
  4. There’s no money for sidewalks, street trees, street improvements, etc. Here’s the thing. Any improvements to your community that the SmartCode will bring will be paid for by private investment. It is a little more expensive for developers to build high-quality places, but the returns for them are also much higher. Adopting this code will actually bring your city and county a great RONI, Return On No Investment! Tax revenues will go up as land values increase so the returns are great. The investments are made by private enterprise through impact fees and your current taxes. Income to the local government goes up the more the private sector prospers. Everyone wins!
  5. Making_Hay_the_Old-fashioned_way

    Time To Replace Our “Old Fashioned” Codes!

    Current codes (like PUD’s) can do the job. Sorry, but the SmartCode has proven to be much better at producing consistent results across cities and counties. PUD’s can be great, but the SmartCode does a better job at prescribing walkability changes that can be implemented all over your communities – existing places, redevelopment, infill, and new development. The SmartCode will not only make newly built places walkable, but it will over time bring improvements to every part of your community, existing and new.

sneakers walkingLet Walkable Brevard help you! Let’s start today. Give us a call and let’s get things going in your community. We have trained people who can pass on to you their expert knowledge about New Urbanism, walkable development, and the SmartCode to augment the skills and knowledge of your local planning staff and building professionals. Let us help you host a walkability workshop for your city. Through a proven public process we can show you how to make the biggest impact toward walkability in your community in a way that is positive and relatively painless!

#Brevard #RealEstate

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3 Responses to SmartCode NOW! (Overcoming Some Misconceptions)

  1. Bill Fisk says:

    Sadly I can hear the Agenda 21 anti government crowd wailing from under what ever their hiding under about the usual nonsense they blather about. I do not think it will be an easy fight to get the entrenched developers away from the gravy train they have milked for years and the NIMBY crowd who peak over their walled and gated so called communities to go along with common sense. Bring it up and lets see if we can get some interest going on improving our county!


    • Thankfully, there are plenty of YIMBY’s (Yes In My Back Yard!) like you and me that agree that we need more walkable and bikeable places in Brevard! Pedestrian and bike safety is finally coming to the forefront of people’s minds and many of our citizens and policy-makers are understanding that we need major changes.


  2. As a former residential real estate appraiser, I had to chuckle when I saw the “suggestion” about relying on PUD’s to get the job done. Yes, PUD’s can accomplish the task in those specific communities, but they do little or nothing to accomplish the task outside those immediate neighborhoods. Like many local businesses looking to transition, as we rely less on Space Center and other manufacturing jobs and more on tourism from expanded port operations for revenue, we need to INVEST to accommodate those who are renting bicycles from those business and provide some walkable green space for our visitors to enjoy their slurpees and ice cream. We are finally seeing some sidewalks being repaired/replaced in Cocoa Beach. However, just as I find myself wondering how many more bridges need to fall down before we as a nation decide to get serious about repairing/replacing our crumbling infrastructure, I wonder how many more people need to get hit by cars in Cape Canaveral (while trying to cross A1A on foot) before our leaders get serious about planning for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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