How much do you know about zoning?

jwblackwell avatar
By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is zoning?

What is the purpose of zoning?

What are some common types of zoning?

What is single-use zoning?

What is form-based zoning?

What is pattern zoning?

What is the legal framework for zoning?

What is the criticism of zoning laws by environmental activists?

What is the criticism of zoning laws by libertarians and minarchists?


Zoning: A Method of Urban Planning

  • Zoning is a method of urban planning in which land is divided into areas called zones, each with its own set of regulations for new development.

  • Zoning may specify a variety of outright and conditional uses of land, the size and dimensions of lots, or the form and scale of buildings.

  • Zoning is used to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible, to prevent new development from interfering with existing uses, and/or to preserve the "character" of a community.

  • Zoning laws that limit the construction of new housing are associated with reduced affordability and are a major factor in residential segregation in the United States by income and race.

  • Zoning is commonly controlled by local governments such as counties or municipalities, though the nature of the zoning regime may be determined or limited by state or national planning authorities.

  • There are a great variety of zoning types, including single-use zoning, mixed-use zoning, form-based zoning, conditional zoning, and pattern zoning.

  • Single-use zoning is the dominant system of zoning in North America and may include residential, mixed residential-commercial, commercial, industrial, and spatial zones.

  • Mixed-use zoning has been created within some zoning systems to accommodate the New Urbanist vision of walkable communities.

  • Form-based zoning regulates not the type of land use, but the form that land use may take.

  • Conditional zoning allows for increased flexibility and permits municipalities to respond to the unique features of a particular land use application.

  • Pattern zoning is a zoning technique in which a municipality provides licensed pre-approved building designs, typically with an expedited permitting process.

  • The legal framework for land use zoning varies by country and is established by states and territories, with land use zones generally defined at the local government level.Overview of Zoning Laws in Various Countries

  • Canada: Municipalities are allowed to establish their own zoning by-laws, and provincial tribunals are the ultimate authority for appeals and reviews.

  • France: The Code of Urbanism, a national law, guides regional and local planning and outlines procedures for obtaining building permits. Private development is permitted as long as the developer follows legally-binding regulations.

  • Japan: Zoning districts are classified into twelve use zones, which determine a building's shape and permitted uses. The controls are intended to allow adequate light and ventilation between buildings and on roads.

  • New Zealand: The planning system is grounded in effects-based Performance Zoning under the Resource Management Act.

  • Philippines: Zoning and land use planning is governed by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and previously by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). The present zoning scheme used in the Philippines is detailed in the HLURB's Model Zoning Ordinance published in 2014.

  • Singapore: The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) administers the framework for governing land uses in Singapore through the Master Plan, a statutory document divided into two sections: the plans and the Written Statement.

  • United Kingdom: The United Kingdom does not use zoning as a technique for controlling land use. Rather than dividing municipal maps into land use zones, English planning law places all development under the control of local and regional governments.

  • United States: 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 can be divided into four broad categories: Euclidean, Performance, Incentive, and form-based.

Criticism of Zoning Laws

  • Environmental activists argue that putting everyday uses out of walking distance of each other leads to an increase in traffic.
  • Libertarians and minarchists see the restrictions as a violation of individuals' property rights.
  • Some economists claim that single-use zoning laws work against economic efficiency and hinder development in a free economy.
  • Other critics of zoning argue that zoning laws are a disincentive to provide housing which results in an increase in housing costs and a decrease in productive economic output.
  • Some have argued that zoning laws increase economic inequality.


Test your knowledge on zoning, a method of urban planning that divides land into zones with specific regulations for development. Learn about the different types of zoning, the legal framework in various countries, and the criticisms of zoning laws. This quiz will help you understand the impact of zoning on communities and the economy.

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