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New Unified Development Code to Streamline Development Projects

On Tuesday, September 19, 2012, the Tucson Mayor and City Council approved the scheduling of a Public Hearing regarding the adoption of the proposed Unified Development Code (UDC) which is the result of the Land Use Code (LUC) Simplification Project. The public hearing and consideration of the UDC are scheduled for October 9, 2012.

The LUC Simplification Project was initiated to address community concerns about the complexity and ambiguity of the existing Land Use Code. The resulting UDC document:

  • Consolidates procedures
  • Clarifies ambiguities
  • Emphasizes simplicity
  • Reduces the need for cross-referencing (i.e. reduce page) flipping) and addresses redundancies
  • Uses a simplified numbering system
  • Replaces the development designator system with simpler dimensions by zone approach
  • Provides new language needed to smooth the transition from LUC to UDC

If approved on October 9, 2012, the UDC will become effective on January 2, 2013. 

“The current Land Use Code was considered outdated, difficult and tedious to use and had grown over time which caused overlaps, conflicts and redundancies,” said Ernie Duarte, Director of Planning and Development Services. “The proposed Unified Development Code incorporates best practices and provides greater certainty for developers making it easier to do business in the City.” The City will continue to review the UDC for new opportunities to simplify and improve the development review process. The next steps include updating the UDC with sustainable policies on urban agriculture, greater flexibility on renewable energy systems, electric car charging stations, and urban heat island mitigation.

The new documents are available for public review at: www.tucsonaz.gov/planning/prog_proj/projects/lucsimplification

Council Member Regina Romero said, “For too long the public and city staff have struggled with our land use code. This new streamlined approach brings us forward and gives us a strong foundation so that more improvements to the code, including integrating our sustainability and smart growth policies, can be integrated." If adopted, the current LUC will continue to be available for use for three years. Developers will have the option of using either the new UDC or current LUC to plan their projects. The UDC has been developed with substantial public input from the City’s Planning Commission and the LUC Committee which included neighborhood representatives, the Metropolitan Pima Alliance, SAHBA and other community groups.