Newton redlining map detail (smaller).pn


Newton's current zoning ordinance—the rules governing development and renovation—has not been substantially updated since the 1950s. It stands in the way of our ability to respond effectively to enormous and persistent challenges: the housing shortageresidential segregationclimate change. 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.

The Zoning and Planning Committee of the Newton City Council  (ZAP), together with the Planning Department, is now engaged in the hard and complicated work of re-writing our zoning ordinance for the modern age, a process the City is calling Zoning Redesign

We believe our new zoning ordinance should enable us to significantly 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.

On Dec. 2, 2020, the Planning Department kicked off a new community engagement effort with a presentation titled "Zoning Redesign: Where We Are Now," which we think was excellent—recording here, slides here.

  • Share your questions and thoughts with Planning by completing this survey—first watch the presentation, if you missed it. Survey closes end of day, Sun., Jan. 10, 2021.

Please pay attention to the ZAP discussions. Listen, learn—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

Engine 6 email (8/23/20) to ZAP

  • Re: Thanks for hard work, new direction

Engine 6 email (8/30/20) to City Council

  • Re: Zoning and affordability

Livable Newton letter (10/1/20) to Mayor and ZAP

  • Re: Support for NHP letter

Engine 6 memo (12/18/20) to ZAP, Planning Board

  • Re: Going Forward Plan (changes to schedule)

Engine 6 email (3/3/21) to ZAP

  • Onward! (straw votes for comprehensive reform + keeping all tools, now time to move on to zoning within walking distance of commercial centers and transit hubs)

Engine 6 email (5/6/21) to ZAP

  • Zoning Redesign—Community Engagement around Village Centers

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: Danielle Delaney


Newton Planning Department

Barney Heath, Director

Jennifer Caira, Deputy Director

Zachery LeMel, Long Range Planner

Nevena Pilipovic-Wengler, Community

     Engagement Specialist

Planning & Development Board

Peter Doeringer, Chair

Newton Housing Partnership

Lizbeth Heyer, Chair

Fair Housing Committee

Ted Hess-Mahan, Chair

Planning Department's







ZAP meeting




for materials from the 12.2.20 Planning Dept. event, "Zoning redesign: Where we are now"


In video recording, jump to 16:00 for Dep. Director Jen Caira's presentation (slides heretranscript here).




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.