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New Zoning Bill Aims to Decrease Number of Cars in Downt...

New Zoning Bill Aims to Decrease Number of Cars in Downtown São Paulo, Brazil

A bill to revise the zoning law in São Paulo, Brazil was presented on June 2nd by Mayor Fernando Haddad to the municipal house. The bill aims to decentivize the use of automobiles in the greater city center of São Paulo by opening more space for bicycles and constructing garages close to metro and train stations.

Traffic congestion in São Paulo, Brazil

A bill to revise the zoning law in São Paulo, Brazil was presented on June 2nd by Mayor Fernando Haddad to the municipal house. The bill aims to decentivize the use of automobiles in the greater city center of São Paulo by opening more space for bicycles and constructing garages close to metro and train stations.

The Municipal Secretary of Urban Development, Fernando de Mello Franco, stated that the idea is to relieve the flow of vehicles in the greater city center.

Another proposal of the bill is to install commercial establishments in residential neighborhoods, such as the region of Jardins. The zoning law seeks to tailor the Strategic Master Plan in relation to the city’s future development. Zoning is a combination of rules -- parceling, use, and occupation -- that defines the activities that can be installed in different locations in the city. For example, where commerce, industry, and residence are permitted, and how buildings must be constructed on lots to provide better connection to the surroundings.

The bill has begun to be processed in the São Paulo House. It will undergo forty public hearings in the neighborhoods with discussions lasting through the end of 2015. If approved by the city council and sanctioned by the Mayor, it will stay in effect until 2029.

Major Components of the Bill

Garages

The idea is to stimulate the construction of parking garage buildings around train and metro stations in the suburban neighborhoods to limit the movement of these cars into the city center.

Fewer parking spaces

The bill also proposes reducing the parking space requirement for new developments and, at the same time, require the widening of sidewalks, the creation of more bike parking locations, and increased locker rooms for cyclists. It is expected to reduce the minimum number of required parking spaces in developments, in particular by not requiring parking spaces in residential uses.

Sidewalk use in São Paulo, Brazil

Environmental Quota

Another innovation is the creation of an environmental quota that encourages actions such as planting trees, increasing the rainwater containment reservoir, and the creation of bioswells. Businesses will have to adhere to a set of minimum actions, without which they will not be licensed. In return they will receive an incentive to adopt these methods. The sustainability of each project can be simulated before being presented to the City Hall.

Maximum Lot Size

The new zoning proposal institutes a maximum dimension on lots and blocks to permit the opening of streets, creation of green areas, and use of the area for social facilities. Lots and plots with areas greater than the limit will be subject to subdivision The idea is to impede the formation of large blocks, as are used for gated communities. Large blocks generate discontinuity in the system and result in large distances to be traversed, which is incompatible with the pedestrian scale and with the principles of urban mobility.

Growth in Public Transport Axes

The master plan defines “structuring axes of urban transformation” -- areas which are targeted to increase the supply of public transport and housing, thus enabling more people to live near large public transport systems.

Guaranteeing Industrial and Economic Development Zones

Near Jacu-Pessego Avenue in the East Zone, a large industrial district has been guaranteed to never be replaced with real estate. It is an example of what the city wants to do to ensure productive areas in the city and the permanence of manufacturing. These industrial zones will be chosen to have good rail and highway accessibility.

Cidade Tiradentes, São Paulo, Brazil

Qualification of Urban Life

Special interest zones,” the ZEIS 1 zone above all, are those containing favelas or irregular subdivisions that are either already regulated or in the process of regulation. The city wants to guarantee the production of affordable housing in these places, yet at the same time allow them to transform into a neighborhood like those in other parts of the city.

In response, two new zones will be created: the “mixed social interest zone,” and the “central ZEIS zone,” where the city will facilitate the development of non-residential uses (commerce and service). This zoning will take advantage of opportunity in employment, commerce, and proximity to these residential areas which are increasingly becoming mixed neighborhoods. One of these areas, for example, is in Tiradentes City, in the East Zone, where there is great need for non-residential uses.

How does zoning effect the area where you live in terms of sustainability, economic development and equity? How can your city improve its transportation system to disincentive car use? Share your thoughts and city's stories in the comments area below. 

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Anna Petrone is a transportation engineering masters student at the University of Maryland, with a Bachelor in Math and Economics. Her interests lie in transportation projects located in developing countries, particularly in South America. She took a...

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