Friday, January 7, 2011

Mixon & McGlynn on Zoning, Planning, Chaos, & Complexity Theory

John Mixon (Houston) and Kathleen McGlynn (Germer Gartz) have posted A New Zoning and Planning Metaphor: Chaos and Complexity Theory, Houston Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 1221 (2006).  The abstract:

The Standard Zoning Enabling Act (SZEA) empowers municipalities to adopt zoning regulations “in accordance with a comprehensive plan,” This Article argues that, contrary to the assumptions underlying the enabling act, planners and local governments are philosophically incapable of creating an ideal, preplanned urban environment. Land use is a nonlinear, complex, adaptive, dynamical system that cannot be analyzed, predicted, and controlled by a linear cause-and-effect formula, such as “plan, then zone.” As a complex system, land use exhibits characteristics of chaos, emergence, and catastrophe, with the result that actual development patterns cannot be quantified, calculated, or predicted. Complex systems, though not predictable, can be managed. The article proposes creation and maintenance of an accessible public display of actual land uses to allow planners and non-planners alike to find and project patterns of development and decay, and to make management and development decisions on the basis of information, not abstract goal statements, maps, and adopted plans.

Matt Festa

Development, Local Government, Planning, Property Theory, Scholarship, Zoning | Permalink

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In the UK, a preference for chaos expressed by a leading Conservative MP led to some raised eyebrows before Christmas when a close colleague of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that planning was inneffective and that the new government want their 'people power' revolution to unleash 'chaotic' effects across local communities,

Posted by: Antonia Layard | Jan 7, 2011 5:56:03 AM