Each of the five buildings below illustrates a key aspect of the proposed new building codes for the city’s three multiple-unit residential zones. All but one of the buildings are consistent with present rules; none would meet the tighter requirements proposed.

Still, the City Council this week asked for more substantial changes, saying the measures illustrated below do more to improve aesthetics than control growth.


Include outdoor open space, elevators, laundry facilities, common recreation areas and landscaping; most subtract space from living quarters, lowering density in a building of any given size.


* This just-completed building on Orange Grove Street has outdoor space, elevators and common laundry facilities; but only 21% of the lot is landscaped, 4% short of the proposed requirement.

* Present: landscaping on 20% of the property; no buildings are required to have outdoor common space, elevators or laundry facilities.

* Proposed: landscaping on 25% of the property; every building would be required to have common laundry facilities, private and common outdoor space; elevators in three-story buildings.

FLOOR AREA RATIOThe ratio of floor area in a building to the area of the lot it is on; a method for controlling overall size, especially in low-density zones.


* This three-story building on Wilson Avenue, in a high-density area, has a ratio of 1.62. If built under the new proposal, it would have to lose the equivalent of just under one story. However, because it would also need more setback (as described below), it could end up with three stories in a narrower profile.

* Present: allows floor area to be 1.8 times that of lot area in all three zones.

* Proposed: would allow a ratio of only 1.2 in high-density zones, which are zones allowing up to one unit per 750 square feet; 0.9 in medium-density zones (one unit per 1,250 square feet) and 0.75 in low-density zones (one unit per 1,750 square feet).


The distance required between the building’s exterior and the adjacent street and property lines.

* This new building on Raleigh Street is 8 1/2 feet closer to the street than the house next door, which was built before 1922. This disparity could still occur, though less markedly, under the new rules.

* Present: Distance from street reduced from 25 to 15 feet in 1922; distances at sides and back vary depending on building height: minimum is five feet; average is eight.

* Proposed: a minimum of 20 feet from street, averaging from 23 to 26 feet. At side and back, setback would be the same for ground floor, increasing more sharply for upper floors to allow for light, air and open space.



Typically required at surface level, underground or partially underground.

* This 10-unit building on Everett Street, with 18 spaces, does not even meet the 1986 requirement. Under the proposal, it would be required to have at least 25 spaces, at least partially underground.

* Present: requires two spaces per unit; no restriction on surface lots; considers any lot 4.5 feet or more below ground semi-subterranean, thus not counted as a story.

* Proposed: would require 2 1/2 to 3 spaces per unit; surface parking only in buildings of four units or less; would count any parking 4.5 feet or more above ground level as surface.


Limits are geared to zone and lot width.

* This three-story building on a narrow Everett Street lot could only be two stories. The building mentioned above on Wilson Avenue could retain a third story only if its parking were entirely underground.


* Present: three stories allowed.

* Proposed: three stories on lots 90 feet or more wide; however, semi-subterranean lots would be considered a story. On lots under 90 feet wide, maximum would be two stories; semi-subterranean lots would not be counted.