Frequently Asked Questions

This Unified Development Code (UDC) will be the key tool for implementing many of the policies contained in the recently adopted Master Plan for Shreveport-Caddo, as it will regulate the use of land, the siting and design of new structures, and the division of land. A good UDC is, among other things, dependent upon a careful understanding of existing patterns of land use, development, and ownership, as well as an agreement as to how the policies of the Plan are interpreted and applied across the City-Parish. Informed input of interested residents and businesses is needed so that all points of view can be considered as revisions are made.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). We continue to update the FAQ based upon comments and questions that we’ve received both through the website comment form, and through our public engagements.

What is zoning?

Zoning regulates what structures and land are used for, where a structure may locate on a lot, and how big that structure can be. It also regulates other elements of site development, such as accessory structures, parking, and landscape. Zoning regulations are divided into zoning districts, so that use, bulk, yard and development regulations are tailored to the character of the particular zoning district.

What is subdivision?

Subdivision regulations provide the rules for dividing up land into buildable lots as well as the rules for public improvements that serve those lots.

What is a Unified Development Code?

A Unified Development Code combines zoning and subdivision regulations, as well as other City-Parish land development ordinances, such as signs, into a single code. The UDC is the “rule book” for land development and building within the Shreveport-Caddo. Currently these “rules” are contained in separate ordinances. The purpose of combining these and kindred ordinances is to assure consistency among development requirements, make it easier to develop land, and to make sure that the review and approval processes are as complete and efficient as possible.

Why update the Zoning Ordinance?

The current Zoning Ordinance does not adequately implement community’s goals for smart growth and sustainability. In addition, many of the zoning district regulations don’t relate to the current built environment, creating nonconformities, or don’t allow for the desired form of development.

What is the relationship between the Master Plan and the UDC?

The UDC is a key tool to implement the Shreveport-Caddo Master Plan. The Master Plan, which was adopted in 2012, provides mapped and written policy about how land should be managed and how development should occur. The UDC will take these policies as its base and provide a set of development regulations, generally organized by district, each containing specific regulations key to those policies. A zoning map identifies the location of these districts, thereby specifying the development requirements affecting land within the City-Parish.

(6/29/15) One of the goals of the adopted 2030 master plan is to “Grow Smarter,” or “Attract new residents and investment to Shreveport “inside the loop,” to live in vibrant, connected, walk-able communities.” How is the UDC helping to control sprawl, and implement these smart growth goals?

The “Great Expectations” 2030 Master Plan contains strong policy direction related to the concept of smart growth. Here are just a few ways that the UDC is helping to implement smart growth concepts:

  • The UDC will help to preserve and support the character of the planning area’s stable residential neighborhoods, and will encourage reinvestment in the traditional urban core neighborhoods within the City of Shreveport. The residential zoning districts have been evaluated and recalibrated to help ensure that investment in the great neighborhoods of the City and Parish can continue to occur, without the need for property owners to jump through hoops or navigate a complex variation process. Further, a new residential district has been created to allow development to occur much more easily on existing small lots found within the City of Shreveport’s urban core. Currently, development within these areas is discouraged by district standards that require large minimum lot sizes, setbacks, and lot widths. By allowing smaller lot sizes and a mix of residential types, this new district will help to encourage reinvestment in the City’s urban core.
  • The UDC will reduce minimum parking requirements in general, and will exempt certain districts, including downtown, from parking requirements. These provisions encourage reinvestment and redevelopment in already developed areas of the City and Parish by eliminating potential obstacles to reuse, and allowing development to occur on parcels that may previously have been considered undevelopable due to their inability to accommodate large required amounts of surface parking.
  • The UDC encourages mixed-use, compact, walkable development in line with goals of the 2030 Master Plan. Importantly, the UDC contains a new Urban Village District to help facilitate the redevelopment of large retail centers into mixed-use environments, with standards to encourage a coordinated environment of commercial and residential uses that is pedestrian-friendly and includes dedicated public space. It also includes a new Industrial Mixed-Use District, to encourage the reuse of existing industrial structures and spur revitalization in older industrial areas that may be experiencing decline.
  • The UDC contains a series of roadway standards that incorporate the principles of “Complete Streets.” These principles encourage the design of street environments that are both safe and efficient for all modes of transportation, from pedestrians, to bicycles, to public transit and private vehicles.
  • Conservation design is required to protect environmentally sensitive areas within the Planning Area. It is also provided as a voluntary option for development in other areas, encouraging the preservation of open space by incentivizing the development of a more compact residential environment, important in limiting sprawl.
  • Finally, the UDC provides guidance related to new annexations by the City of Shreveport, with standards to ensure that new annexation does not adversely affect the planned development pace of growth or redevelopment in other areas of the City, and that it is in line with the goals and policies of the 2030 Master Plan.

(6/29/15) The UDC seems to take a strong stance on limiting the location and number of billboards in the City and Parish. Why is this?

As currently drafted, the UDC takes an aggressive stance on limiting the location and number of billboards within the City and Parish. Billboards, in line with federal regulations, are still allowed along federal roadways, and in the Heavy Industrial (I-2) District. The UDC encourages the removal of older billboards by requiring the removal of three nonconforming billboards before a new one can be installed. This is similar to regulations that were successfully adopted in 2000 by our neighbors in Bossier City-Parish, which require the removal of two nonconforming billboards before a new billboard can be installed. These provisions stem from an identified desire among residents and officials to improve the appearance and reduce the impact of “visual clutter” in the commercial areas of the City and Parish. We continue to welcome any additional comments regarding this key issue.

(6/29/15) What is the purpose of the Downtown Sub-Districts, and how do they relate to existing plans, such as the Shreveport Common Vision Plan?

As the “heart” of the planning area, Downtown Shreveport demands a high level of attention. Though Downtown is a concentrated geographic area, it comprises numerous delineated character areas, working in combination to create a dynamic experience. Each of these character areas is acknowledged in the UDC, and specific requirements are included to ensure that the unique characteristics of each area are reinforced. The Downtown Sub-Districts were identified through detailed mapping and field work, and respond to existing features and characteristics, as well as the land use policies of the 2030 Master Plan. As such, sub-district boundaries may not conform to delineated boundaries established for the purposes of previous planning efforts, such as the Shreveport Common Vision Plan. The UDC is fully supportive of the goals and objectives of the Shreveport Common Vision Plan, and seeks to ensure that achieving these goals becomes easier under the new, tailored sub-district regulations.

(6/29/15) How was the Use Matrix in the UDC created? Is it “set in stone?”

The Use Matrix included in the draft UDC has been developed to ensure that uses permitted in each district are specifically tailored to the character and purpose of that district. The current use structure employs a “pyramid approach,” wherein a zoning district will allow a referenced set of uses from another district, with an additional set of permitted uses included “on top,” specific to the district. This has led to a use structure that makes it difficult to determine exactly what uses are allowed within a district without referring back in the ordinance to multiple districts. Further, it can lead to inconsistencies or contradictions if the ordinance is amended and a particular reference is missed. The Use Matrix included in the UDC makes it much easier to determine which uses are allowed in each zoning district, and closely ties those uses to the purpose of the district.

None of this is “set in stone,” and we continue to welcome comments, questions, and suggestions about the uses allowed in each district!

(6/29/15) Why does the UDC include landscape and tree preservation requirements?

Trees and landscape provide numerous benefits to a community and its residents. Studies have shown that street trees and landscaping can provide not only aesthetic and environmental benefits, but social and economic benefits as well. Landscape and tree preservation requirements are included in the UDC in response to recommendations of the 2030 Master Plan, specifically to achieve 30% tree coverage by 2030, through protection of existing trees and expansion of tree and landscape requirements for new development and roadway projects.

Future drafts of the Unified Development Code will also include an approved plant list, to encourage the use of native vegetation, and ensure that appropriate trees and vegetation are installed according to current best practices. Choosing the right plant for the right place can extend the life of Shreveport Caddo’s green and grey infrastructure, and can help to prevent common maintenance and pruning issues.

(7/8/2015) The current Ordinance has hours of operation attached to the districts. In addition, certain uses that obtained special approval with conditions may have hours of operation attached as conditions to that approval. How will existing uses with restrictions on hours of operation be treated in the new UDC?

A number of different scenarios may occur regarding current conditions on hours of operation when the new UDC comes into effect. A key change in the new UDC is that the districts no longer have hours of operation. The following describes each potential scenario:

  • A permitted use in the district has no zoning restrictions related to hours of operation. This includes any uses that under the former ordinance required special approval, but under the new UDC are considered a permitted use.
  • A use that was formerly permitted in the district but has become a special use under the new UDC has no zoning restrictions related to hours of operation.
  • A use that formerly required special approval in the district and remains a special use under the new UDC is controlled in one of two ways: 1) where no conditions on the hours of operation were part of the original approval, the use no longer has zoning restrictions related to hours of operation; or 2) where conditions on the hours of operation where added to the original approval, the restrictions related to hours of operation remain in effect.
  • A use that is no longer allowed within a district and becomes a nonconforming use is only subject to zoning restrictions related to hours of operation if such conditions were part of the original approval. If there were no conditions related to hours of operation in the approval, then there are no zoning restrictions related to hours of operation.

How will the appeal process work for various applications under the proposed UDC?

Please click here to view a document presenting a brief description of how the appeal process will work for various applications under the proposed UDC.