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Stewarding a community vision and translating that vision into a form-based code.

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

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 exciting 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 will explore the Commerical Core's opportunities and challenges and identify solutions. This vision will culminate in a vision plan (map), representing the community's ideas for how the Commerical Core may evolve in the next 50 years. The vision plan will then be translated into development regulations for the Commercial Core Area, as a form-based code zoning ammendment.

Our Tool to Get There
Form-Based Zoning Code

The City of Auburn selected a form-based code (FBC) as our planning tool. FBCs are vision-based development regulations.

FBCs enable communities to put in place a structure that empowers the town to grow into its vision.

City Council selected this tool because it embodies what their constituents value in a planning process: robust community participation, cultivating beloved character,  easy-to-read and visual rules, and making local reinvestment easier.

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

Slideshow credit: Form-Based Code Institute.

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.

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 compatibly with the old in the future. Within this framework, we are interested in creating space for new expressions of design, flair, character, and free choice of materials.

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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 Visioning phase. Please check the home page for important dates, or sign up for the email list to be notified directly. 

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 cohesive, community-backed vision for the Commercial Core of Auburn and update the zoning code to support the implementation of that vision by the private sector.


The Auburn City Council selected a form-based code as the planning tool in the fall of 2022. An FBC was selected because it incorporates what the council members heard as necessary in the planning process from the community:

  • Community Participation - features collaborative design and problem-solve with the community. 

  • Cultivate Beloved Character - starts with what's successful and beautiful about a town as a way of making new development compatible with the old.

  • Easy-to-read Visual Rules - includes form standards for building shape and street fronts, streets, sidewalks, parks, and parking

  • Makes Local Reinvestment Easier - Streamlines the permit process for projects that conform  to the vision

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City of Auburn, Project Sponsor

Jonathan Wright

Community and Economic Planning Director

(530) 823-4211 x144

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!

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