Monday, July 24, 2017
Patricia Salkin on Contemporary Issues in Teaching Land Use: Question 2: Teaching the 1916 NYC Zoning Ordinance and the Standard State Zoning Enabling Act
[While updating the recently released ninth edition to the casebook Land Use and Sustainable Development Law, the four co-authors engaged in numerous spirited discussions about teaching land use. We wanted to open this discussion to others to get their comments and thoughts as we continue to rethink the teaching of this important subject. Each month on this blog, we will introduce a new topic relevant to teaching land use. The topics will loosely follow our casebook chapters, beginning with Chapter 1. We'll explore each topic through four blog posts, one from each of us. We hope you find the discussion enriching, and encourage you to contribute to the conversation in the comments section below or off-line. -- John Nolon, Patricia Salkin, Stephen Miller, & Jonathan Rosenbloom.]
Contemporary Issues in Teaching Land Use
Question 2: Teaching the 1916 NYC Zoning Ordinance and the Standard State Zoning Enabling Act
by Patricia Salkin
The material on the Standard Zoning Enabling Act and the Standard City Planning Enabling Act that appears in Chapter 1, Section 3 of the new edition of the casebook provides rich teaching opportunities as demonstrated by the last two posts. I start by asking the students to think about what comes first - planning or zoning? Is it a good idea to enact land use regulations without first thinking about the desired character of a particular community or neighborhood? Of course this is a great segue to Chapter 2 and the comprehensive plan discussion. Inevitably, students quickly conclude that planning should precede zoning - and then I point out that the Standard Zoning Enabling Act was promulgated two years before the Standard City Planning Enabling Act. Since planning and zoning is influenced temporally by public policy, I find it useful to set the backdrop of major events within an historical context. There is a terrific article on the history behind these model acts in APA's Land Use Law (February 1996) available here.
I also use this material in conjunction with a class assignment to obtain a copy of a zoning ordinance from a municipality of the student's choice. As the Teacher's Manual to the book points out, there are many important practice points from the assignment (access to local laws, Freedom of Information Laws, cost of obtaining print copies and pitfalls in relying solely on ordinances from the Internet, whether he zoning map routinely accompanies the test, etc.), However, as related to these model acts, students are asked to compare the sections headings in the model zoning enabling act with the topical organization of their local zoning ordinance. We discuss, for example, the creation and designation of zoning districts, and use this as a springboard to discuss differences in the number of zoning districts, the nomenclature of zoning districts and the different uses allowed in the zoning districts. Having seen a copy of a zoning ordinance prior to reading "the early cases" in the next section of the book, it provides an important context for what the zoning ordinance actually is and how it works. Up to this point in their law school education, most students have never seen a copy of a local law.
The ninth edition of Land Use and Sustainable Development Law, is now available for the 2017-18 academic year. Feel free to contact any of the co-authors if you would like to discuss the book--or just teaching land use law in general.
Previous posts in the Contemporary Issues in Teaching Land Use series