HIP Tool: Performance Zoning

In contrast to traditional zoning, performance zoning allows different uses to co-locate within a zone as long as the development achieves specified performance criteria and planning goals. In lieu of regulating land uses, performance zoning establishes neighborhood compatibility, transportation, open space and other standards that developments must meet. Developments are rated on their performance, and those that score sufficient points in the appropriate categories are approved.


Performance zoning is effective at increasing diversity and mixing uses; affordable housing goals may be achieved by offering incentives in tandem with this tool.

Benefits of performance zoning include a flexible approach to development that responds to changing market conditions. Performance zoning also eliminates additional administrative processes like variances or conditional uses.

Disadvantages of implementing this tool can include upfront time and costs in developing the criteria and points system. The amount of agency and public review for development permit approvals can also be greater than under traditional zoning. For this reason, full implementation of performance zoning has been limited. More often, it is selectively applied in particular districts.

Some performance zoning examples combine elements of traditional zoning such as development standards with critical areas regulations, design standards and environmental analysis procedures.

Tool Profile

Focus Areas

  • Urban Centers
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Expensive Housing Markets
  • Innovative Single Family Techniques

Project Types

  • Single Family
  • Multifamily
  • Ownership
  • Rental
  • Market Rate

Affordability Level

  • 80 to 120% AMI

Housing Goal

  • Diversity