fisher town design


matt white quote

The SmartCode is a unified land development ordinance for planning and design. It enables community vision and specific outcomes, is site specific and is meant to be locally customized.

Go to the Free SmartCode Downloads page
Free downloads
of the SmartCode and ways to purchase the SmartCode Manual.

It supports:

  • community vision
  • local character
  • conservation of open lands
  • transit options
  • walkable and mixed-use neighborhoods.

It prevents:

  • wasteful sprawl development
  • automobile-dominated streets
  • empty downtowns
  • a hostile public realm
Petaluma River
Petaluma River
Petaluma River
Petaluma River

The SmartCode is considered a form-based code because it strongly addresses the form of development. Conventional zoning codes focus on use, density and parking, and have caused systemic problems over the past sixty years by separating uses. The SmartCode goes beyond this by recognizing the fact that while uses are important, the form of what gets built is equally important.

The political power of the SmartCode lies in the fact that instead of the one-size fits all conventional code approach, it allows different approaches in different areas within the community. This permits buy-in from all corners of the constituency. The true importance of this feature is that the current ad hoc basis for regulation of real estate development is greatly reduced.

The SmartCode is a transect-based code as well as a form-based code. It is based on the rural-to-urban Transect, which employs a framework of six zones of varying character, ranging from the wilderness to the urban core. The six zones are: T1-Natural, T2-Rural, T3-Sub-Urban, T4-General Urban, T5-Urban Center, and T6-Urban Core.

The Transect

Urban Rural Transect

The Transect is a powerful organizing principle because its standards can be coordinated across many other disciplines and documents, including LEED (environmental performance) and ITE (transportation). The SmartCode integrates the design process across professional disciplines, including traffic engineering, architecture, town planning, ecology, landscape architecture, and public works.

The SmartCode addresses development patterns at three scales of planning:
  • the Sector (Regional) Scale
  • the Community Scale
  • the Block and Building Scale

The SmartCode folds zoning, subdivision regulations, and certain urban design standards into one compact document. Therefore it may replace a number of other documents. Its text is only 28 pages, plus Tables and illustrations. It may be supplemented by architectural design guidelines or a pattern book, if the community desires more detailed regulation.

Go to the Free SmartCode Downloads page
Free downloads of the SmartCode and ways to purchase the SmartCode Manual

For free downloads of the modules for sustainable urbanism, affordability etc. go to