Zoning codes often refer to areas as, residential, commercial, industrial or mixed-use. However, the American home has often been the site of incredibly ingenuity. The urban technology start-ups from Hot-Rodders, to Hewlett-Packard and Apple to backyard rocket enthusiasts, are some examples of technology filtering through the garage into the mainstream market place.
As our government looks to create a green technology bonanza through research and development, in hoping to create jobs like the technology boom of the silicon chip and the computer in the eighties, shouldn't city planning regulations encourage this backyard research and development? Using Los Angeles as an example, a year ago the mayor limited industry and encouraged residential growth through the use of the zoning code. With todays glut of housing throughout the southwest there we have an oversupply of small space and an under supply of home buyers. Couldn't we repurpose these houses as small tech laboratories? Even CNC machines are becoming affordable to the home enthusiast!
At The Functionality we believe in future planning. Why not encourage RDIMBY (Research and Development in My Back Yard)? Here are just a few ideas:
- Mixed Use through Mis-Use: let people do what they want with their garage and homes.
- Provide small grants for specific technologies through a shared pool of tax-payer dollars. The completion of the grant would be paid upon patent approval.
- Use up the the housing stock! Develop research collectives that can temporarily occupy empty housing developments.
Just a few thoughts from us to you. We think infrastructure is more than just the roads and bridges we use, it can be the fabric of our urban lives. If Recycling, Reuse and Reduce were the three R's for material in the 80's and 90's maybe we need to apply those to the cities we live in, and not just the products we use.