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Form Based Zones

The Form Based Zones legislation (O-08-58) was passed by City Council with a 7:2 vote on April 6, 2009.

Download the Adopted Version of the Legislation:

On March 11, 2009, the Form-Based Zones were heard at LUPZ and were forwarded to the full council for consideration:

A "new" bill (O-08-58) that reintroduces the Form-Based Zones was introduced at the November 5 Council meeting. This action was necessary in order to prevent interruption in consideration of the Form-Based Zones, but the "new" bill neither alters the version of the draft that was considered and recommended by the EPC nor incorporates the EPC's recommendations, as that can only be done by actions of the Council. It was simply for procedural reasons that this legislation was reintroduced. For all intents and purposes, O-08-58 is the same legislation as the existing F/S O-07-116 bill.
June 2008 Draft for Public Review

Revisions have been modified in response to:

  • an extensive review of community and stakeholder comments,
  • recommendations from City agencies and Council selected technical team,
  • issues encountered by local planning efforts using form based code models,
  • and extensive testing of implementation and administration of the October 31, 2007 draft.

In addition, coordination efforts have been made with the Comprehensive Plan, Centers and Corridors, the Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code, and the City Zoning Code.

In order to facilitate use of the document as a tool for application in appropriate locations citywide, the following changes have been made:

  1. The Form Based Zonea is now part of the Zoning Code’s General Regulations, implemented through the Code’s SU-1 or SU-2/SU-1 processes. In order to insert the document into the City Zoning Code as §14-16-3-20, the general formatting of the document has changed to match the formatting style of the existing City Zoning Code.
  2. Document sections are now: Section A, General Provisions; Section B, Form Based Code Zones; Section C, Components: Building Types, Building Frontages, Street Design, Parking, Lighting, Signage, Usable Open Space.

Purpose of the Form Based Zones

The Form Based Zones are intended to redress the gap that exists between present development patterns and our community’s aspirations as expressed in the City / County Comprehensive Plan and the Planned Growth Strategy. One cause of this inconsistency is that Comprehensive Plan policies have not been adequately translated into changes in the structure of City law, regulations, procedures and financial charges. Albuquerque enacted its Zoning Code in 1959 without the guidance of a comprehensive plan. The Comprehensive Plan was adopted between 1964 and 1972. At that time, the City did not engage in a thorough review of zoning in order to make these land-use requirements consistent with the long-term goals and policies contained in the comprehensive plan.

Policy Context

The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan and the Planned Growth Strategy guide the future development of Albuquerque.  Both of these documents seek to create and support a city where residents need to travel fewer miles every day to go about their lives, where development along and around transit facilities supports the functioning of transit.

The Planned Growth Strategy is a long range strategy to encourage a more efficient and sustainable urban form for the City.  The Form Based Code was identified in the Planned Growth Strategy as one of the tools needed to create and support a city where:

  • a variety of housing types are available, including town and village versions like “living over the store” and row houses,
  • development takes place as a mixture of uses rather than large acreages of single land use types,
  • residents are closer to shopping and services,
  • there is an active pedestrian life,
  • development is characterized by human rather than automotive scale, and
  • a city whose older, established areas are as well-kept and vital as its new ones.

Basic Principles that Underlie Form Based Zones

  • ACCESSIBILITY: Encourages development that offers retail goods and services within walking, biking or short transit distance of places to live and work.
  • FLEXIBILITY: Provides a variety of building forms, some of which support the mixture of a variety of uses and bring residents closer to businesses.
  • SERVING NEIGHBORHOODS: Allows some areas of the community that are finer grained – where we develop in an integrated fashion, not in large scale, single use parcels.
    • Such development is more likely to be able to accommodate local businesses and smaller businesses, which in turn become critical quality of life elements for nearby residential areas.
  • SUPPORTIVE OF TRANSIT: Encourages development that is shaped by and utilizes a functioning transit system.
  • MULTI-MODAL STREETS: Accommodates cars, but is not dominated by them.  Buildings are easily accessible by foot traffic and transit.
    • Buildings are close to the street and its sidewalk.
    • Entrances are clearly identified architecturally.
    • Parking is most often behind buildings or in structures.
    • Streets are identified as “A” (pedestrian oriented) or “B” (vehicle oriented) with respect to the site.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Gives developers and neighborhoods the opportunity to create something that fits with our times and our values.
    • An aging population cannot always drive yet wants to age in place.
    • Resources are becoming more precious; we need to use them more efficiently.
    • Examples of resources:
    • Fuel for transportation and heating
    • Water
    • Locally produced food
    • Air quality
    • Land well-served with infrastructure
    • Construction material
  • CONTEXT SENSITIVE: Makes sensitive transitions to existing neighborhoods.
  • ECONOMIC VIABILITY: Provides market incentives for the development or redevelopment of neglected property.

Form Based Zoning Is Not New to Albuquerque

The City of Albuquerque, since 2000, has adopted a number of plans that include Form Based Zones provisions.  Some of these include:

Additionally, the Mesa del Sol Planned Community, the SunCal Planned Community, and the West Side Strategic Plan incorporate many Form Based Zones principles.

The FBZ has been developed to add another “tool” that can be used in plans which establish development regulations, such as Sector Development Plans and Corridor Plans.

The new zones in the FBZ are recommended by the City of Albuquerque’s Planned Growth Strategy (PGS).


The Council will not put the Form Based Zones into effect city-wide. The current zoning code will remain in place. The FBZ represents an alternative to the current zoning districts. Any public or private entity that wants to use the FBZ will need to apply for a zone map amendment and go through the normal public process: going before the Environmental Planning Commission, either to approve the zone map amendment or in some cases to recommend to the City Council whether to approve the amendment, and, if necessary, going through an appeal process. This process applies equally to a zone map amendment initiated by the City.

After it is adopted, the FBZ – both its Building Forms and its Zones – will be available for consideration for use in:

  • sector plans
  • corridor plans
  • community activity center master plans

Such plans may use the FBZ as an overlay for existing zoning, may adopt some of the FBZ (with or without modifications), may adopt some of the Building Forms, or ignore the FBZ.

Presently, sector plans and zone map amendments are often highly unpredictable and contentious processes between neighbors, the City and developers. Every new sector plan starts from scratch, yet deals with a common thread of problems: safety, mobility, economic vitality and quality of our public environment. The FBZ is an opportunity for neighbors and developers to visualize and agree upon forms of redevelopment that will not be harmful to residents but rather make for healthier businesses and quality of life.

Form Based Code Town Hall Meeting

Councilor Isaac Benton thanks everyone who attended the Form Based Code Town Hall meeting on Saturday, December 8, 2007. The turn-out of 100 people, a mix of neighborhood leaders and others from the community, was very impressive. Councilor Benton appreciates the helpful feedback that participants provided and looks forward to continuing to hear feedback on the Code as it moves forward in the EPC review process.

Materials that were distributed at the Town Hall meeting, as well as an audio recording of the meeting, are provided below.

Meeting Schedule


Schedule of Form-Based Code Town Halls by Council District

Council District EPC Commissioner Date Location FYI
1: Councilor Ken Sanchez   Thursday, January 31, 2008, 6-8 PM Alamosa Community Center (6900 Gonzales Rd., SW) The FBC presentation took place during the Southwest Alliance of Neighborhood’s monthly meeting.
2: Councilor Debbie O'Malley Commissioner Jonathan Siegel Thursday, February 7, 2008, 5:00-6:30 PM Los Griegos Health & Social Services Center (1231 Candelaria Rd., NW) The FBC presentation took place during the District 2 Coalition’s monthly meeting.
3: Councilor Isaac Benton Commissioner Jamie Jett Walker Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 6-8 PM Loma Linda Community Center (1700 Yale Blvd., SE)  
4: Councilor Brad Winter Commissioner Joe Yardumian Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 6:30 PM

Fire Station 20
7520 Corona NE
Wyoming just north of Paseo del Norte

5: Councilor Michael Cadigan


Richard Shine

Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 6:30-8:30 PM Don Newton (Taylor Ranch) Community Center (4900 Kachina NW)  
6: Councilor Rey Garduno Commissioner Judy Kowalski Wednesday, February 6, 2008, 6-8 PM Cesar Chavez Community Center (7505 Kathryn SE)  
7: Councilor Sally Mayer Commissioner Laurie Moye Thursday, January 24, 2008, 7-9 PM Sheraton Uptown (6815 Menaul NE) The FBC presentation took place during Councilor Mayer’s regularly-scheduled Heart of the Heights meeting.
8: Councilor Trudy Jones

Douglas Peterson

Monday, February 11, 2008, 6-8 PM Bear Canyon Senior Center (4645 Pitt NE)  
9: Councilor Don Harris Commissioner Michael Dickson

February 19,
2008, 6:30 PM

Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center
(501 Elizabeth SE)