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Zoning in the United States includes various
land use Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all life, living and non-living things occurring nature, naturally, meaning in this case not Artificiality, artifi ...
laws falling under the police power rights of
state government A state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The ...
s and
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
s to exercise authority over privately owned
real property In English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World la ...
. Zoning laws in major cities originated with the
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles
zoning ordinances of 1904 and the
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
Zoning resolution of 1916. Starting in the early 1920s, the United States Commerce Department drafted model zoning and planning ordinances in the 1920s to facilitate states in drafting enabling laws. The constitutionality of zoning ordinances was upheld by the
Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or Americ ...

Supreme Court of the United States
in '' Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.'' in 1926 According to the ''New York Times'', "
single-family zoning Single-family zoning is a type of zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the deve ...
is practically gospel in America," as a vast number of cities zone land extensively for detached single-family homes. The housing shortage in many metropolitan areas, coupled with racial residential segregation, has led to increased public focus and political debates on zoning laws. Studies indicate that strict zoning regulations constrain the supply of housing and inflate housing prices, as well as contribute to inequality and a weaker economy. Strict zoning laws have been found to contribute to racial housing segregation in the United States, and zoning laws that prioritize single-family housing have raised concerns regarding housing availability, housing affordability and environmental harms. There are no substantial differences between liberal and conservative homeowners in their opposition to the construction of dense housing in their neighborhoods.


Origins and history

Zoning is the process of dividing a
municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, ...
into separate
district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by the local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or County, counties, several Municipality, municipal ...

district
s, or zones, upon which differing regulations, typically regarding land use, are applied. The enforcement of these regulations is enabled by the police powers delegated from the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine ''State Magazine'' is a digital magazine published by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Global Talent Management. Its mission is to acquaint Department o ...
to local government. Many argue that Reinhard Baumister was the first to develop a system of land use separation that could be considered "zoning". nineteenth century zoning plans were used as inspiration across America and other countries in Western Europe. The need for formal zoning in America arose at the turn of the twentieth century as cities such as New York, experiencing rapid
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
and growth in industry, felt a growing need to reduce , stabilize property values, combat poor
urban design While many assume urban design is about the process of designing and shaping the physical features of cities A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a comm ...
, and protect residents from issues such as crowded living conditions, outbreaks of disease, and
industrial pollution Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be ...

industrial pollution
, through legal means. Edward M. Bassett, author of the first comprehensive zoning ordinance in the United States, wrote in 1922:
Skyscrapers would be built to unnecessary height, their cornices projecting into the street and shutting out light and air. The lower floors needed artificial light in the daytime. Business centers instead of being rationally spread out were intensively congested. Transit and street facilities were overwhelmed...
Additionally, many of the earliest zoning laws in the United States were influenced by a demand for class, ethnic, and race-based segregation. Early zoning ordinances in the United States were more narrow in scope and later became more comprehensive. Modesto's 1885 ordinance banning wash houses from certain areas of the city has been argued to be America's first true zoning ordinance. Richmond's 1908 zoning ordinance regulating the height and arrangement of buildings was upheld by the
Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals The Supreme Court of Virginia is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a m ...
in 1910, a decision used as precedent in the implementation of New York City's
1916 Zoning Resolution The 1916 Zoning Resolution in New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthl ...
.


19041930


Los Angeles, 1904-1909

Zoning in Los Angeles is commonly believed to have been first enacted in 1908, although
Los Angeles City Council The Los Angeles City Council is the legislative body of the City of Los Angeles. The council is composed of 15 members elected from single-member districts for four-year terms. The president of the council and the president ''pro tempore'' are ch ...
passed the first municipal zoning ordinance in the United States, Ordinance 9774, on July 25, 1904. Though the ordinance did not assign all parts of the city to a zoning map, as with later American ordinances, it did established three residential districts in which laundries and wash houses were prohibited. The prohibition against laundries had a racial component since many were owned by Chinese residents and citizens. This ordinance would later be replaced in 1908 with other ordinances that expanded the scope of the residential districts and greatly expanded the scope of prohibited industries. Existing nuisance laws had already prohibited some industrial land uses in
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles
. Dangerous businesses (such as warehousing explosives) were illegal before 1908, as were odorous land uses, such as
slaughterhouse A slaughterhouse, also called abattoir (), is a facility where animals are slaughtered to provide food for humans. Slaughterhouses supply meat, which then becomes the responsibility of a packaging facility. Slaughterhouses that produce mea ...

slaughterhouse
s and
tanneries Tanning may refer to: *Tanning (leather), treating animal skins to produce leather *Sun tanning, using the sun to darken pale skin **Indoor tanning, the use of artificial light in place of the sun **Sunless tanning, application of a stain or dye to ...
. The
California Supreme Court The Supreme Court of California is the highest and final court of appeals in the courts A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, g ...
had already upheld such rules in ''Yick Wo'' (1886). Many later
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
court cases supported the 1908 ordinances, even in one case of ''ex post facto'' relocation of an existing brickyard. Ordinance 16170, adopted on September 16, 1908 established six industrial districts. These were drawn mainly in areas which had already hosted significant industrial development such as corridors along the freight railroads and the
Los Angeles River , name_etymology = , image = Los Angeles River.jpg , image_caption = Near Downtown Los Angeles Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is the central business district A central business district (CBD) is the commercial and bu ...

Los Angeles River
. A new ordinance adopted on August 3, 1909, established that all land within Los Angeles that was not part of an industrial district would become a residence district. However, between 1909 and 1915, Los Angeles City Council responded to some requests by business interests to create exceptions to industrial bans within the three residential districts. They did this through the legal device of districts within districts. While some might have been benign, such as motion picture districts, some others were polluting, such as poultry slaughterhouse districts. Despite the expanding list of exceptions, new ordinances in other cities (i.e., 1914 Oakland ordinance) followed the 1908 Los Angeles model through about 1917. There existed 22 cities with zoning ordinances by 1913.


Race-based zoning ordinances, 19101917

Many American cities passed residential segregation laws based on race between 1910 and 1917.
Baltimore City Council The Baltimore City Council is the legislative branch that governs the City of Baltimore and its more than 600,000 citizens. It has 14 members elected by district and a president elected at-large; all serve four-year terms. The Council holds regul ...

Baltimore City Council
passed such a law in December 1910. Unlike the Los Angeles Residential District which created well-defined areas for residential land use, the
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
scheme was implemented on a block-by-block basis. Druid Hill had already existed as a ''de facto'' all-black neighborhood, but some whites in nearby neighborhoods protested for formal segregation. Just a few months later,
Richmond, Virginia (Thus do we reach the stars) , image_map = , mapsize = 250 px , map_caption = Location within Virginia , pushpin_map = Virginia#USA , pushpin_label ...
passed its race-based zoning law, which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Virginia in the 1915 case ''Hopkins v. City of Richmond''. Over the next few years, several southern cities established race-based residential zoning ordinances, including four other cities in
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
, one in
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
, and another in
South Carolina South Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...

South Carolina
.
Atlanta Atlanta () is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Georgia (U.S. state), most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. With an estimated 2019 population of 506,811, it is also the List of United ...

Atlanta
passed a law similar to 1910 Baltimore ordinance. Before 1918, race-based zoning ordinances were adopted in
New Orleans New Orleans (,New Orleans
,
Louisville Louisville (, , ) is the largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can ra ...
,
St. Louis St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State ( ...

St. Louis
, and
Oklahoma City Oklahoma City (), officially the City of Oklahoma City, and often shortened to OKC, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger ...

Oklahoma City
. In the end, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Louisville ordinance, ruling in '' Buchanan v. Warley'' that race-based zoning was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; more specifically, the Court held that the law violated the "right to contract" and the right to alienate property. Despite the ''Buchanan'' ruling, the city of Atlanta devised a new race-based zoning ordinance, arguing that the Supreme Court had merely applied to specific defects of the Louisville ordinance. Even after the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the Atlanta ordinance, the city continued to use their racially based residential zoning maps. Other municipalities tested the limits of ''Buchanan'';
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
,
Apopka Apopka is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It ...
and
West Palm Beach West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are an evenly spaced set of horizontal directions (or azimuth An azimuth (; from ar, اَلسُّمُوت, as-sumūt, the directi ...
drafted race-based residential zoning ordinances.
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Ro ...
,
Indianapolis Indianapolis (), colloquially known as Indy, is the List of U.S. state and territorial capitals, state capital and List of U.S. states' largest cities by population, most-populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana and the county seat, seat of ...

Indianapolis
, and
New Orleans New Orleans (,New Orleans
all passed race-based zoning laws, while Atlanta,
Austin Austin (, ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices and ...

Austin
,
Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City (abbreviated KC or KCMO) is the largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Stat ...
, and
Norfolk Norfolk () is a rural and non-metropolitan county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambe ...
considered race in their "spot zoning" decisions. In some cases, these practices continued for decades after ''Buchanan''. While not explicitly race-based, it is believed that
Berkeley, California Berkeley ( ) is a city on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California, Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Irish people, Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cit ...
is where single-family zoning first originated, as an effort to keep minorities out of white neighborhoods.


1916 New York Zoning Resolution

In 1916,
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
adopted the first zoning regulations to apply citywide as a reaction to construction of the (which still stands at 120 Broadway). The building towered over the neighboring residences, completely covering all available land area within the property boundary, blocking windows of neighboring buildings and diminishing the availability of sunshine for the people in the affected area. Bassett's zoning map established height restrictions for the entire city, expressed as ratios between maximum building height and the width of adjacent streets. Residential zones were the most restrictive, limiting building height to no higher than the width of adjoining streets. The law also regulated land use, preventing factories and warehousing from encroaching on retail districts.
These laws These may refer to: *the plural proximal demonstrative in English *These, a variation of the Greek Theseus in Etruscan mythology {{Disambig Etruscan mythology ...
, written by a
commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creation of a piece of art most often on behalf of another ...
headed by
Edward Bassett Edward Murray Bassett (February 7, 1863 – October 27, 1948), "the father of American zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government A government is the system or group of people gov ...
and signed by
Mayor In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their ow ...

Mayor
John Purroy Mitchel John Purroy Mitchel (July 19, 1879 – July 6, 1918) was the 95th mayor of New York from 1914 to 1917. At 34, he was the second-youngest mayor and he is sometimes referred to as "The Boy Mayor of New York." Mayor Mitchel is remembered for hi ...

John Purroy Mitchel
, became the
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blueprint
for zoning in the rest of the country, partly because Bassett headed the group of planning lawyers who wrote
The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act External links APA: Standard Acts
with the text of the SZEA and the SCPEA Zoning 1921 in law Real property law in the United States Urban planning in the United States Uniform Acts ...
that was issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1924 and accepted almost without change by most states. The effect of these zoning regulations on the shape of skyscrapers was illustrated famously by architect and illustrator
Hugh Ferriss Hugh Macomber Ferriss (July 12, 1889 – January 28, 1962) was an American architect, illustrator, and poet. He was associated with exploring the psychological condition of modern urban life, a common cultural enquiry of the first decades of the ...
.


Standard State Zoning Enabling Act

The State Standard Zoning Enabling Act (SZEA) is a federal planning document first drafted and published through the United States Commerce Department in 1922, which gave states a model under which they could enact their own zoning enabling laws. The genesis for this act is the initiative of
Herbert Hoover Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was an American politician and engineer who served as the 31st president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of gove ...

Herbert Hoover
while he was Secretary of Commerce. Deriving from a general policy to increase home ownership in the United States, Secretary Hoover established the Advisory Committee on Zoning, which was assigned the task of drafting model zoning statutes. This committee was later known as the Advisory Committee on City Planning and Zoning. Among the members of this committee were Edward Bassett,
Alfred BettmanAlfred Bettman (1873 – 1945) was one of the key founders of modern urban planning. Zoning, as it is known today, can be attributed to his successful arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, which resulted in the 1926 decision in favor of the Villa ...
, Morris Knowles, Nelson Lewis, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and
Lawrence VeillerLawrence Turner Veiller (1872–1959) was an American social reformer of the Progressive Era in New York (state), New York. He was a major figure in the Good government and urban planning movements of the early twentieth century. Early life and educ ...
.Republished by the American Planning Association. The Advisory Committee on Zoning appointed a subcommittee under the title of "Laws and Ordinances." This committeewhich included Bassett, Knowles, Lewis, and Veillercomposed a series of drafts for SZEA, with one dated as early as December 15, 1921. A second draft came forth from the subcommittee in January 1922. Several drafts culminated in the first published document in 1924, which was revised and republished in 1926.


Initial reception

During their inception, zoning laws were harshly criticized as an overreach of government power. Some believed that they were an unjust restriction of private action, while others believed that the power of zoning would be corrupted in the hands of bureaucrats. General P. Lincoln Mitchell went as far as to call zoning laws "an advanced form of communism." Others supported zoning laws for their uniform and consistent application, and believed that they would be a force of social equality. The constitutionality of zoning laws was highly debated until the ruling of ''Euclid v. Amber Realty''.


''Euclid v. Ambler Realty''

The constitutionality of zoning ordinances was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in '' Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.'' in 1926. The zoning ordinance of
Euclid, Ohio Euclid is a city in Cuyahoga County, Ohio Cuyahoga County ( or ) is located in the northeastern The points of the compass are the Euclidean vector, vectors by which planet-based directions are conventionally defined. A compass rose is primari ...
was challenged in court by a local land owner on the basis that restricting use of property violated the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. This founding document, originally com ...
. Ambler Realty Company filed suit on November 13, 1922 against the Village of Euclid, Ohio, alleging that the local zoning ordinances effectively diminished its property values. The village had zoned an area of land held by Ambler Realty as a residential neighborhood. Ambler argued that it would lose money because if the land could be leased to industrial users it would have netted a great deal more money than as a residential area. Ambler Realty claimed these breaches implied an unconstitutional taking of property and denied equal protection under the law.


Houston, 19241929

Houston Houston ( ) is the List of cities in Texas by population, most populous city in Texas, List of United States cities by population, fourth-most populous city in the United States, most populous city in the Southern United States, as well as th ...

Houston
remains an exception within the United States because it never adopted a zoning ordinance. However, strong support existed for zoning in Houston among elements within municipal government and among the city's elites during the 1920s. In 1924, Mayor Oscar Holcombe, appointed the first funded City Planning Commission. City Council voted in favor of hiring S. Herbert Hare of
Hare and Hare Hare & Hare was a landscape architecture firm founded in Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, in 1910 by the father-and-son team of Sid J. Hare and S. Herbert Hare.http://www.umkc.edu/whmckc/hare/hare%20history.htm A number of their works ...
as a planning consultant. Following the passage of a state zoning enabling statute in 1927, Holcombe appointed
Will Hogg William Clifford Hogg (January 31, 1875 September 12, 1940) was an attorney, a developer, a civic activist, and a philanthropist. Early life William Clifford Hogg was born on January 31, 1875 in Quitman, Texas, the eldest child of Sallie (Stinso ...
to chair a new City Planning Commission. Will Hogg was a co-founder of the
River Oaks River Oaks is a residential community located in the center of Houston, Texas, United States. Located within the 610 Loop and between Downtown Houston, Downtown and Uptown Houston, Uptown, the community spans .Archive Established in the 1920s by ...
development, the son of a former Texas Governor and an heir to family oil wealth. By 1929, both Hare and Hogg abandoned efforts to push the zoning ordinance to a referendum. In their estimation, there was not enough support for it. Hogg resigned as chair of the City Planning Commission that year. Houston is the largest city in the country with ''no'' zoning ordinances. Houston voters have rejected efforts to implement zoning in 1948, 1962, and 1993. Houston is similar, however, to other large cities throughout the
Sun Belt The Sun Belt is a region of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consi ...
, who all experienced the bulk of their population growth during the . The largest of these cities, such as
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles
,
Atlanta Atlanta () is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Georgia (U.S. state), most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. With an estimated 2019 population of 506,811, it is also the List of United ...

Atlanta
,
Miami Miami (), officially the City of Miami, is a coast, coastal metropolis located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, Miami-Dade County in southeastern Florida, United States. With a population of 467,963 as of the 2020 United States census, 2020 censu ...

Miami
,
Tampa Tampa () is a major city on the Gulf Coast The Gulf Coast of the United States is the coastline The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the sea or ocean, or as a line that forms the bo ...

Tampa
,
Dallas Dallas (), colloquially referred to as Big D, is a city in the U.S. state of Texas and the largest city in and County seat, seat of Dallas County, Texas, Dallas County, with portions extending into Collin County, Texas, Collin, Denton County, ...

Dallas
, , and
Kansas City The Kansas City metropolitan area is a bi-state metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area ...
, have all expanded their metropolitan footprints along with Houston while having land use zoning."Land Use Regulation and Residential Segregation: Does Zoning Matter?" Christopher Berry, American Law and Economics Review V3 N2 2001 (251-274) While Houston has no official zoning ordinances, many private properties have legal covenants or "deed restrictions" that limit the future uses of land, with effects similar to those of zoning systems. Also, the city has enacted development regulations that specify how lots are subdivided, standard setbacks, and parking requirements. The regulations have contributed to the city's
automobile A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle A motor vehicle, also known as motorized vehicle or automotive vehicle, is a self-propelled vehicle, commonly wheeled, that does not operate on Track (rail transport), rails (such as trains o ...

automobile
-dependent sprawl, by requiring the existence of large minimum residential lot sizes and large commercial parking lots.


Scope

Theoretically, the primary purpose of zoning is to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible and provide stability to property values. In practice, zoning is also used as a permitting system to prevent new development from harming existing residents or
business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit." Having a business name A trad ...

business
es. Zoning is commonly exercised by local governments such as
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
or
municipalities A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, ...
, although the state determines the nature of the zoning scheme with a zoning enabling law.
Federal lands Federal lands are lands in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consis ...
are not subject to state planning controls. Zoning may include regulation of the kinds of activities that will be acceptable on particular lots (such as open space, residential,
agricultural Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agricultural
,
commercial Commercial may refer to: * a dose of advertising conveyed through media (such as - for example - radio or television) ** Radio advertisement ** Television advertisement * (adjective for:) commerce, a system of voluntary exchange of products and se ...

commercial
, or industrial), the densities at which those activities may be performed (from low-density
housing Housing, or more generally living spaces, refers to the construction Construction is a general term meaning the and to form , , or ,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary'' Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) ...

housing
such as single family homes to high-density such as high-rise apartment buildings), the height of buildings, the amount of space structures may occupy, the location of a building on the lot ( setbacks), the proportions of the types of space on a lot (for example, how much
landscape A landscape is the visible features of an area of land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) an ...

landscape
d space and how much paved space), and how much
parking Parking is the act of stopping and disengaging a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied. Parking on one or both sides of a road is often permitted, though sometimes with restrictions. Some buildings have parking facilities for use of the buildings' ...

parking
must be provided. Some commercial zones specify what types of products may be sold by particular stores. The details of how individual planning systems incorporate zoning into their regulatory regimes varies although the intention is always similar. Most zoning systems have a procedure for granting variances (exceptions to the zoning rules), usually because of some perceived hardship due to the particular nature of the
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, r ...
in question. If the variance is not warranted, then it may cause an allegation of
spot zoning Spot zoning is the application of zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polit ...
to arise. Most state zoning-enabling laws prohibit local zoning authorities from engaging in any spot zoning because it would undermine the purpose of a zoning scheme.Eves Zoning codes vary by jurisdiction. As one example, residential zones might be coded as R1 for
single-family home A stand-alone house (also called a single-detached dwelling, detached residence or detached house) is a free-standing residential building. It is sometimes referred to as a single-family home, as opposed to a multi-family residential dwelling ...

single-family home
s, R2 for two-family homes, and R3 for . As another example, R60 might represent a minimum lot of 60,000 sq. ft. (1.4 acre or about 0.5 hectares) per single family home, while R30 might require lots of only half that size.


Legal challenges

There are several limitations to the ability of local governments in asserting police powers to control land use. First, constitutional constraints include freedom of speech (First Amendment), unjust takings of property (Fifth Amendment), and equal protection (Fourteenth Amendment). There are also federal statutes that sometimes constrain local zoning. These include the Federal Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.


Freedom of Speech

Local governments regulate signage on private property through zoning ordinances. Sometimes courts invalidate laws which regulate the content of speech rather than the manners and modes of speech. One court invalidated a local ordinance that prohibited "for sale" and "sold" signs on private property. Another court struck down a law which prohibited signs for adult cabarets.


Takings after 1987

Beginning in 1987, several United States Supreme Court cases ruled against land use regulations as being a
taking Eminent domain (United States, Philippines), land acquisition (India, Malaysia, Singapore), compulsory purchase/acquisition (Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom), resumption (Hong Kong, Uganda), resumption/compulsory acqui ...
requiring just
compensation Compensation may refer to: *Financial compensation *Compensation (chess), various advantages a player has in exchange for a disadvantage *Compensation (engineering) *Compensation (essay), ''Compensation'' (essay), by Ralph Waldo Emerson *Compensati ...
pursuant to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. ''First English Evangelical Lutheran Church v. Los Angeles County'' ruled that even a temporary taking may require compensation. ''Nollan v. California Coastal Commission'' ruled that construction permit conditions that fail to substantially advance the agency's authorized purposes, require compensation. ''Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council'' ruled that numerous environmental concerns were not sufficient to deny all development without compensation. ''Dolan v. City of Tigard'' ruled that conditions of a permit must be roughly proportional to the impacts of the proposed new development. ''Palazzolo v. Rhode Island'' ruled property rights are not diminished by unconstitutional laws that exist without challenge at the time the complaining property owner acquired title.


Equal protection

Specific zoning laws have been overturned in some other U.S. cases where the laws were not applied evenly (violating equal protection) or were considered to violate free speech. In the
Atlanta Atlanta () is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Georgia (U.S. state), most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. With an estimated 2019 population of 506,811, it is also the List of United ...

Atlanta
suburb of Roswell, Georgia, Roswell, Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia, an local ordinance, ordinance banning billboard (advertising), billboards was overturned in court on such grounds. It has been deemed that a municipality's sign ordinance must be content neutral with regard to the regulation of signage, signs. The city of Roswell, Georgia, Roswell, Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia now has instituted a sign ordinance that regulates signs, based strictly on dimensional and aesthetic codes rather than an interpretation of the sign content (i.e. use of colors, lettering, etc.).


Religious exercise

On other occasions, religious institutions sought to circumvent zoning laws, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). The Supreme Court eventually overturned RFRA in just such a case, ''City of Boerne v. Flores'' Case citation, 521 U.S. 507 (1997). Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) in 2000, however, in an effort to correct the constitutionally objectionable problems of the RFRA. In the 2005 case of Cutter v. Wilkinson, the United States Supreme Court held RLUIPA to be constitutional as applied to institutionalized persons, but has not yet decided RLUIPA's constitutionality as it relates to religious land uses.


Types

Zoning codes have evolved over the years as urban planning theory has changed, legal constraints have fluctuated, and political priorities have shifted. The various approaches to zoning may be divided into three categories: Euclidean (use-based), performance, and form-based.


Euclidean

Named for the type of zoning code adopted in the town of Euclid, Ohio, Euclidean (also known as exclusionary) zoning codes are by far the most prevalent in the United States, being used extensively in small towns and large cities alike. Euclidean zoning is characterized by the segregation of land uses into specified geographic districts and dimensional standards stipulating limitations on the magnitude of development activity that is allowed to take place on lots within each type of district. Typical types of land-use districts in Euclidean zoning are: residential, commercial, and industrial. Uses within each district are usually heavily prescribed to exclude other types of uses (residential districts typically disallow commercial or industrial uses). Some "accessory" or "conditional" uses may be allowed in order to accommodate the needs of the primary uses. Dimensional standards apply to any structures built on lots within each zoning district, and typically, take the form of setbacks, height limits, minimum lot sizes, lot coverage limits, and other limitations on the building envelope. Euclidean zoning takes two forms, flat and hierarchical. Under flat Euclidean zoning, each district is strictly designated for one use. Hierarchical zoning uses traditional Euclidean zoning classifications (industrial, commercial, multi-family, residential, etc.), but places them in a hierarchical order "nesting" one zoning class within another. For example, multi-family is not only permitted in "higher order" multi-family zoning districts, but also permitted in high order commercial and industrial zoning districts as well. Protection of land values is maintained by stratifying the zoning districts into levels according to their location in the urban society (neighborhood, community, municipality, and region). Hierarchical Euclidean zoning generally, fell out of favor in the mid-twentieth century, with flat zoning becoming more popular, although many municipalities still incorporate some degree of hierarchy in their zoning ordinances. Euclidean zoning is used by many municipalities due to its ease of implementation (one set of explicit, prescriptive rules), long-established legal precedent, and familiarity to planners and design professionals. Euclidean zoning has been criticized, however, for its lack of flexibility. Separation of uses can contribute to urban sprawl, loss of open space, heavy infrastructure costs, and automobile dependency.


Performance

Also known as "effects-based planning", performance zoning, first advocated by Lane Kendig in 1982, uses performance-based or goal-oriented criteria to establish review parameters for proposed development projects in any area of a municipality. Performance zoning often utilizes a "points-based" system whereby a property developer may apply credits toward meeting established zoning goals through selecting from a 'menu' of compliance options (some examples include: mitigation of environmental impacts, providing public amenities, building affordable housing units, etc.). Additional discretionary criteria may be established also as part of the review process. The appeal of performance zoning lies in its high level of flexibility, rationality, transparency, and accountability. Performance zoning avoids the arbitrary nature of the Euclidean approach, and better accommodates market principles and private property rights with environmental protection. However, performance zoning can be extremely difficult to implement due to the complexity of preparing an impact study for each project, and can require a high level of discretionary activity on the part of the supervising authority. For this reason, performance zoning has not been adopted widely in the US and is usually limited to specific categories within a broader prescriptive code when found.


Form-based

Form-based zoning relies on rules applied to development sites according to both prescriptive and potentially discretionary criteria. Typically, these criteria are dependent on lot size, location, proximity, and other various site- and use-specific characteristics. For example, in a largely suburban single family residential area, uses such as offices, retail, or even light industrial could be permitted so long as they conformed (setback, building size, lot coverage, height, and other factors) with other existing development in the area. Form based codes offer considerably more flexibility in building uses than do Euclidean codes but, as they are comparatively new, may be more challenging to create. Form-based codes have not yet been widely adopted in the United States. When form-based codes do not contain appropriate illustrations and diagrams, they have been criticized as being difficult to interpret. One example of a recently adopted code with form-based design features is the Land Development Code adopted by
Louisville Louisville (, , ) is the largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can ra ...
, Kentucky in 2003. This zoning code creates "form districts" for Louisville Metro. Each form district intends to recognize that some areas of the city are more suburban in nature, while others are more urban. Building setbacks, heights, and design features vary according to the form district. As an example, in a "traditional neighborhood" form district, a maximum setback might be from the property line, while in a suburban "neighborhood" there may be no maximum setback. Dallas, Texas, is currently developing an optional form-based zoning ordinance. Since the concept of form-based codes is relatively new, this type of zoning may be more challenging to enact.


Additional provisions

Additional zoning provisions exist that are not their own distinct types of zoning but seek to improve existing varieties through the incorporation of flexible practices and other elements such as Incentive, incentives or the usage of Information and communications technology, information and communication technologies (ICTs).


Incentive zoning

First implemented in Chicago and New York City, incentive zoning is intended to provide a reward-based system to encourage development that meets established urban development goals. Typically, a base level of prescriptive limitations on development will be established and an extensive list of incentive criteria will be established for developers to adopt or not, at their discretion. A reward scale connected to the incentive criteria provides an enticement for developers to incorporate the desired development criteria into their projects. Common examples include (Floor Area Ratio, floor-area-ratio) bonuses for affordable housing provided on-site (known as inclusionary zoning) and height limit bonuses for the inclusion of public amenities on-site. Incentive zoning has become more common throughout the United States during the last 20 years. Incentive zoning allows for a high degree of flexibility, but may be complex to administer. The more a proposed development takes advantage of incentive criteria, the more closely it has to be reviewed on a discretionary basis. The initial creation of the incentive structure in order to best serve planning priorities also may be challenging and often, requires extensive ongoing revision to maintain balance between incentive magnitude and value given to developers. Incentive zoning has also been criticized for increasing traffic, reducing natural light, and offering developers larger rewards than those reaped by the public.


Smart zoning

Smart zoning is a broad term that consists of several alternatives to Euclidean zoning that incorporate information and communication technologies. There are a number of different techniques to accomplish smart zoning. Floating zones, cluster zoning, and planned unit development (PUDs) are possible even as the conventional Euclidean code exists, or the conventional code may be completely replaced by a smart performance or form-based code, as the city of Miami has done. The incorporation of ICTs to measure metrics such as walkability, and the flexibility and adaptability that smart zoning can provide, have been cited as advantages of smart zoning over "non-smart" performance or form-based codes.


Floating zones

Floating zones involve an ordinance that describes a zone's characteristics and requirements for its establishment, but its location remains without a designation until the board finds that a situation exists that allows the implementation of that type of zone in a particular area. When the criteria of a floating zone is met the floating zone ceases "to float" and is adopted by a zoning amendment. Some states allow this type of zoning, such as New York and Maryland, while states such as Pennsylvania do not, as an instance of
spot zoning Spot zoning is the application of zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polit ...
.Eves To be upheld, the floating zone the master plan must permit floating zones or at least they should not conflict with the master plan. Further, the criteria and standards provided for them should be adequate and the action taken should not be arbitrary or unreasonable. Generally, the floating zone is more easily adoptable and immune from legal challenges if it does not differ substantially from zoned area in which it is implemented.


Cluster zoning

Cluster zoning permits residential uses to be clustered more closely together than normally allowed, thereby leaving substantial land area to be devoted to open space. Cluster zoning has been favored for its preservation of open space and reduction in construction and utility costs via consolidation, although existing residents may often disapprove due to a reduction in lot sizes.


Planned unit development (PUD)

Planned unit development is cluster zoning, but allows for Mixed-use development, mixed uses. They include some commercial and light industrial uses in order to blend together a traditional downtown environment, but at a suburban scale. Some have argued, however, that such a planned unit development may be a wiktionary:sham, sham for the purpose of bringing in commercial and industrial uses forbidden by the state's zoning law; some courts have held such a "sham" to be an "arbitrary and capricious abuse" of the police power.


Composite zoning

"Composite" zoning is a type of zoning that consists of a use component, site component, and architectural component. The use component is similar in nature to the use districts of Euclidean zoning. With an emphasis on form standards, however, use components are typically more inclusive and broader in scope. The site components define a variety of site conditions from low intensity to high intensity such as size and scale of buildings and parking, accessory structures, drive-through commercial lanes, landscaping, outdoor storage and display, vehicle fueling and washing, overhead commercial service doors, etc. The architectural components address architectural elements and materials, as well as the general level of architectural design. This zoning method is more flexible and contextually adaptable than standard Euclidean zoning while being easier to interpret than other form-based codes. It has been implemented in Leander, Texas, and is growing in popularity.


Amendments to zoning regulations

Amendments to zoning regulations may be subject to judicial review, should such amendments be challenged as ultra vires or unconstitutional. The standard applied to the amendment to determine whether it may survive judicial scrutiny is the same as the review of a zoning ordinance: whether the restriction is arbitrary or whether it bears a reasonable relationship to the exercise of the police power of the state. If the residents in the targeted neighborhood complain about the amendment, their argument in court does not allow them any vested right to keep the zoned district the same.Duggan However, they do not have to prove the difficult standard that the amendment amounts to a taking. If the gain to the public for the rezoning is small compared to the hardships that would affect the residents, then the amendment may be granted if it provides relief to the residents. If the local zoning authority passes the zoning amendment, then
spot zoning Spot zoning is the application of zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polit ...
allegations may arise should the rezoning be preferential in nature and not reasonably justified.


Limitations and criticisms

Land-use zoning is a tool in the treatment of certain social ills and part of the larger concept of Social engineering (political science), social engineering. There is criticism of zoning particularly amongst proponents of limited government or Laissez-faire political perspectives. The inherent danger of zoning, as a coercive force against property owners, has been described in detail in Richard Rothstein's book ''The Color of Law'' (2017). Government zoning was used significantly as an instrument to advance racism through enforced segregation in the North and South from the early part of the 20th century up until recent decades.


Circumventions

Generally, existing development in a community is not affected by the new zoning laws because it is "Grandfather clause, grandfathered" or ''legally non-conforming'' as a nonconforming use, meaning the prior development is exempt from compliance. Consequently, zoning may only affect new development in a growing community. In addition, if undeveloped land is zoned to allow development, that land becomes relatively expensive, causing developers to seek land that is not zoned for development with the intention to seek rezoning of that land. Communities generally react by not zoning undeveloped land to allow development until a developer requests rezoning and presents a suitable plan. Development under this practice appears to be piecemeal and uncoordinated. Communities try to influence the timing of development by government expenditures for new streets, sewers, and utilities usually desired for modern developments. Contrary to federal recommendations discouraging it, the development of interstate Freeway, freeways for purposes unrelated to planned community growth, creates an inexorable rush to develop the relatively cheap land near interchanges. Property tax suppression measures such as California Proposition 13 (1978), California Proposition 13 led many communities desperate to capture sales tax revenue to disregard their comprehensive plans and rezone undeveloped land for retail establishments. In Colorado, local governments are free to choose not to enforce their own zoning and other land regulation laws. This is called selective enforcement. Steamboat Springs, Colorado is an example of a location with illegal buildings and lax enforcement.


Social

In more recent times, zoning has been criticized by urban planners and scholars (most notably Jane Jacobs) as a source of new social ills, including urban sprawl, the separation of homes from employment, and the rise of "car culture". Some communities have begun to encourage development of denser, homogenized, mixed-use neighborhoods that promote walking and cycling to jobs and shopping. Nonetheless, a single-family home and car are major parts of the "American Dream" for Nuclear family, nuclear families, and zoning laws often reflect this: in some cities, houses that do not have an attached Garage (house), garage have been deemed "Blight (urban), blighted" and are subject to redevelopment. Movements that disapprove of Euclidean zoning, such as New urbanism, New Urbanism and Smart Growth, generally try to reconcile these competing demands. New Urbanists in particular favor creative urban design solutions that hark back to 1920s and 1930s practices of hierarchical zoning, or form-based code.


Exclusionary

Zoning has long been criticized as a tool of racial and socio-economic exclusion and segregation, primarily through minimum lot-size requirements and land-use segregation. Early zoning codes often were explicitly racist, or designed to separate social classes. Exclusionary practices remain common among suburbs wishing to keep out those deemed socioeconomically or ethnically undesirable: for example, representatives of the city of Barrington Hills, Illinois, Barrington Hills, Illinois once told editors of the Real Estate section of the ''Chicago Tribune'' that the city's minimum lot size helped to "keep out the riff-raff." Occupancy restrictions, such as those restricting the number of unrelated occupants that can occupy a single-family dwelling, have been criticized for their rigidity to traditional ideas of the nuclear family. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas argued in the case ''Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas'' that argued it was the objective of the state to preserve traditional family values, something critics have used as a pejorative against single-family zoning.


Racially-segregated zoning

Since 1910 in Baltimore, numerous U.S. States created racial zoning laws; however such laws were ruled out in 1917 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such laws interfered with the property rights of owners ('' Buchanan v. Warley''). There were repeated attempts by various states, municipalities, and individuals since then to create zoning and housing laws based on race, however, such laws eventually were overturned by the courts. The legality of all discrimination in housing, by public or private entities, was ended by the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968). Despite such rulings, many claim that zoning laws are still used for the purpose of racial segregation. In the wake of the Fair Housing Act, localities increasingly used purportedly non-racial zoning laws to keep non-whites out of white neighborhoods. Localities prohibited multi-family buildings, which were more likely to be occupied by racial minorities and recent immigrants.


Housing affordability

Zoning also has been implicated as a primary driving factor in the rapidly accelerating lack of affordable housing in urban areas. One mechanism for this is zoning by many suburban and exurban communities for very large minimum residential lot and building sizes in order to preserve home values by limiting the total supply of housing, which thereby excludes poorer people. This shifts the market toward more expensive homes than ordinarily might be built. According to the Manhattan Institute, as much as half of the price paid for housing in some jurisdictions is directly attributable to the hidden costs of restrictive zoning regulation. For example, the entire town of Los Altos Hills, California, Los Altos Hills,
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
(with the exception of the local community college and a religious convent), is zoned for residential use with a minimum lot size of one acre (4,000 m²) and a limit to only one primary dwelling per lot. All these restrictions were upheld as constitutional by federal and state courts in the early 1970s. The town traditionally attempted to comply with state affordable housing requirements by counting secondary dwellings (that is, apartments over garages and guest houses) as affordable housing, and since 1989 also has allowed residents to build so-called "granny units". In 1969 Massachusetts enacted the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Act: Chapter 40B, originally referred to as the anti-snob zoning law. Under this statute, in municipalities with less than 10% affordable housing, a developer of affordable housing may seek waiver of local zoning and other requirements from the local zoning board of appeals, with review available from the state Housing Appeals Committee if the waiver is denied. Similar laws are in place in other parts of the United States (e.g., Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Illinois), although their effectiveness is disputed.


Health and environmental concerns

A study of greenhouse gas emissions found that strict zoning laws "seem to be pushing new development towards places with higher emissions." Public officials have argued that, while zoning laws have historically had a negative impact on the environment through their promotion of low-density sprawl and car-centric development, zoning can be used to preserve Open space reserve, open space and as a tool to promote the usage of renewable energy. These forms of development, by fostering car dependency, may also contribute to a rise in sedentary lifestyles and obesity.


See also

* Agricultural zoning * Transfer of development rights * Urban growth boundary


References

{{reflist


External links


A Standard State Zoning Enabling Act
Land Use Law, Washington University in St. Louis Urban planning in the United States Zoning