Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2019

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs


Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good

First Advisor

Rachel Brahinsky

Second Advisor

Diana Negrin


This paper seeks to understand how zoning, urban design, and use value control the dynamics of a city and the public space, from the way they are shaped, to the way they are built, and finally to the way they are used. In this research the first step is to recognize that the strategies of zoning in a city are a way of governing and guiding the development of the space, followed by the urban design—which is a more tangible way of interpreting the different rules because it is the actual form zoning takes—to then see how they generate an impact on people and how they use the public space in the urban cores, in this case in downtown San Francisco.

The research explores the three main topics of zoning, urban design, and use value in different ways. The paper is conducted through a literature review to understand the current state of these topics and previous ideas of them, followed by an application of the theoretical research and field analysis of the downtown area—its plan of development, how the different public spaces work according to the zoning laws, and how the built environment relates to them—to ultimately analyze the actual use of the space and determine whether the intended and planned use of a space reflects the way it is actually used. In the end, this paper argues that the value of a space is determined by the use of it, so it is necessary to make planning decisions in relation to the context of where a space is going to be placed and who the true users of it are going to be.