Constructing a Proper Zoning Code

Last week’s blog entry addressed code numbering, and how a three-decimal numbering scheme is Code Publishing Company’s preferred format. We mentioned how there are similarities across multiple codes, including municipalities hundreds of miles away from each other. Where codes often deviate is the zoning chapter. These codes go by one of a few names: Development Code, Zoning Code, Planning Code, or a combination of those terms (e.g., Planning and Development).

Municipalities are free to call it what they want, but an effective and easily navigable zoning code should follow the same numbering scheme as the rest of the code. As you’ve probably already guessed, this isn’t always the case. For starters, zoning codes are more complex than municipal codes. Unlike municipal codes, zoning codes feature many images and tables. Also, if you think municipal codes are big, zoning codes are enormous, often dwarfing entire municipal codes.

Not only is there more content, but there are more moving parts – literally. One of Code Publishing’s most popular online features is scrolling headers. Zoning codes contain numerous tables, many of which are both long and contain lots of information. For example, here is Section 19.20.020 of the Sonoma Municipal Code (Title 19 is their zoning code, which is titled “Integrated Development Regulations and Guidelines”). Scroll down to Table 3-6, and then keep scrolling. The headers (Development Feature, Requirements by Zoning District, R-L, R-S, R-M) are static, as in, they don’t move with the table entries, making it cumbersome to read.

Now, let’s look at Section 17.28.020 of the Benicia Municipal Code which contains a Land Use Regulations table. The top of the table looks like this:

As you scroll, notice how the headers follow the table (see below). This eliminates the need to constantly scroll up and down:

Another previous blog entry discussed the advantages of using FrameMaker instead of InDesign for code management. FrameMaker’s strong suits are never more evident than when dealing with all the images, tables and moving parts of a zoning code. Speaking of tables, we’ve covered them a little bit in this post, but will expand on the topic, including what Code Publishing has to offer, in a future post.

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