Jun 20, 2012

Use Violations are difficult to enforce

It seems the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled recently that local City Inspectors do not have the right to inspect a property to determine Zoning Violations. 
How might this apply to Honolulu? We already seem to have difficulty enforcing restrictions on B&B's.
Zoning Violations that involve how a property is used are especially tricky for the gov't to enforce because it is not what is built but who occupies it and/or when. But if it's so difficult to actually enforce, then why have them at all? Why is so much of the value of land based assets tied to something so intangible?
Compared to Structure Violations, where a structure is perhaps physically built in the wrong place, or built incorrectly, the defects are for the most part, easily visible and quantifiable. But when it comes to legislating human behavior, it seems the Zoning Code has a long way to go.  Interestingly, there is a Zoning Code called the Form Based Code that seems to address this. In other words, instead of legislating the who and the when, Form Based Code instead focuses on the what and where. 
For example, specifying maximum frontage or minimum front setbacks, the Code hopes to achieve a certain quality of street frontage, setting the mood of a neighborhood via regulating building massing. This is quite a different approach than say, regulating what kinds of uses can occur on each property or limit the hours of operation. In a way, Form-Based Codes appeal to the side of me that thinks people don't want to be told what to do, much less on their own land. But overall, as to the health and future growth potential of a city, i wonder which approach is more effective? 

BELOW: Samples of Form-Based Codes regulating effect on bldg frontages and massing.