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Preserving Our Past, Building Our

A carefully thought out approach to designing the future of our town.

Form-Based Zoning Code

This slide show demonstrates how a form-based zoning code can transform a community's quality of life.

Slideshow credit: Form-Based Code Institute.

A successful form-based code will preserve and perpetuate what the community loves about Auburn's Commerical Core and reduce red tape for planning approvals. We are not looking to make Auburn a time-capsule where new buildings must look like old buildings. Instead, we are documenting the Core's building form and rhythm to create a structure for how we build in the future. Within this framework, we are interested in creating space for modern expressions of design, flair, character, and free choice of materials.

Form-Based Code

/fôrm-bāsed kōd/


  1. A form-based code is a land development regulation that fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. A form-based code is a regulation, not a mere guideline, adopted into city, town, or county law. A form-based code offers a powerful alternative to conventional zoning regulation.

Why now for Auburn?

Our zoning code dates back to 1973. It hasn't been updated in almost 50 years! A lot has changed since then. Auburn is a destination for world-renowned events, a hub for our poppin' local business community, and a home to generations of people.


Our community is so unique -- historical, hardworking, fun, and outdoorsy. It deserves a community-backed road map for the future that reflects how unique it truly is.

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What's the vision?

The vision behind this project is to engage the community in a conversation about what we want the future of Auburn to look like. From that conversation, we'll understand what locals like and dislike about Auburn, and we'll create a vision plan for developing in the direction that we most want to go in. The vision plan will then be written into zoning development regulations for the Commercial Core Area.

Join us to create the vision.

Your input is critical in this approach to city planning. Your experience and perspective will shape this project. We want to hear from you.

These are the immediate ways you can get involved:

Let's do an experiment together to imagine what we want the future of Auburn to be.

We are currently interviewing community members that have special insight that can inform this project. Who do you think we should talk to?


This project has four phases, which will unfold from September 2022 to September 2023.

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September to December 2022

January to May 2023

June to August 2023

September 2023 onwards

We are currently in the documentation phase. Please check back here for important dates, or sign up for the email list to be notified directly. 

What's the best email address to reach you at so we can stay in touch?

We'll send you links to surveys, invitations to community charrettes, and project updates so you can be involved every step of the way.

Thank you for your involvement!

Meet the Team

Our entire team is local to Auburn, CA. Our design team brings experience in urban design, architectural design, and landscape design to the project. Our outreach team brings skills from social sciences, communications, and economic development. Together, we look forward to working with the community to create a well-rounded and feasible plan.

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Who Is Pioneering This Project?

The City of Auburn is pioneering this form-based code project in collaboration with Genevieve Marsh Design Group. The goal is to create a modern and cohesive vision for the Commercial Core of Auburn. 


The City recognizes that Auburn is growing and changing. It needs a powerful alternative to conventional zoning that involves tearing down red tape where it interferes with local creativity and cultural flair, and establishing design standards that discourage rampant growth.

Such an alternative hinges on strong communication with locals so that their uniqueness within the framework has the freedom to show through.

The City aims to document the uniqueness of our community via graphic illustrations in the form-based code in order to streamline and incentivize development projects that preserve and contribute to the culture of Auburn. 

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City of Auburn, Project Sponsor

Jonathan Wright

Community and Economic Planning Director

(530) 823-4211 x144

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