We see Zoning Redesign as a once-in-a-generation chance to reshape Newton into a city that can respond effectively to two enormous challenges: the housing shortage and climate change.


Newton's current Zoning Ordinance—the rules governing development—stands in the way of our doing much about either. It severely limits the number and kind of new homes we can build, and where they can be built, reinforcing old patterns of segregation and shutting many people out entirely. It prevents us from making the most of our village centers and public transit resources. It constrains our economy and our environmental sustainability.

A new ordinance should enable us to substantially increase our housing opportunities—in number and kind, for all sorts of people, all across the city—and improve our response to climate change. Adding more homes, especially within walking distance of village centers and railway stops, will help revitalize areas that made Newton a desirable place to live well before the advent of zoning (1922) and the predominance of transit by automobile.

The draft new zoning ordinance now under review by the City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee (ZAP) will not get us to our goals—at least, not yet. It is narrowly focused on less consequential concerns—reconciling lot "nonconformities," preserving "neighborhood character"—and minimizing change. It would produce a city that is barely less exclusive, segregated, and car-dependent than the one we have now.

But it's not too late! We can change the conversation, and the outcome. Please pay attention to the ZAP discussions, and speak up for a more inclusive and sustainable city. Your City Councilors need to hear from you!

For more about our hopes for the new zoning ordinance, click on the green links below.

Engine 6 memo (4/7/20) to ZAP, Planning

  • Re: Priorities, goals

Engine 6 memo (4/24/20) to ZAP, Planning

  • Re: Recommendations

Engine 6 email (5/15/20) to ZAP

  • Re: Reframing the discussion

Engine 6 email (6/3/20) to Mayor Fuller

  • Re: Zoning Redesign as path to fairer housing, racial justice

Engine 6 email (6/15/20) to Mayor Fuller

  • Re: Zoning Redesign and Black Lives

Zoning & Planning Committee of the Newton City Council (ZAP)

Deborah Crossley, Chair

Victoria Danberg, Vice Chair

Other members: Susan Albright, Lisle Baker, Joshua Krintzman, Alison Leary, Holly Ryan, Pamela Wright

Clerk: Nathan Giacalone


Newton Planning Department

Barney Heath, Director

Zachery LeMel, Long Range Planner

Gabriel Holbrow, Community Planner

Planning & Development Board

Peter Doeringer, Chair

Newton Housing Partnership

Lizbeth Heyer, Chair

Fair Housing Committee

Kathy Laufer, Chair



for ZAP

meeting dates, agendas, and reports

The image in this page's background is a screen shot of the federal Home Owners' Loan Corporation map for Newton and areas east toward Boston, from the interactive website Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, a collaboration spearheaded by the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab.