Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Zoning for Sustainability

Those interested in the intersection of zoning and sustainability will want to check out Edward J. Jepson Jr. and Anna L. Haines'  Zoning for Sustainability: A Review and Analysis of the Zoning Ordinances of 32 Cities in the United States, which was just released online in the Journal of the American Planning Association.  The article is freely available here.

The abstract: 

Problem, research strategy, and findings: To understand how communities use zoning ordinances to achieve sustainability goals, we identify nine sustainability principles and 53 associated regulatory items that might be included in a zoning ordinance to achieve sustainable development and then examine the zoning ordinances of 32 randomly selected communities to determine if they included these principles and their associated items. We fi nd both wide variation and some consistency in how zoning ordinances address sustainability goals, independent of city size or location in the country. Some of the identifi ed principles and regulatory items are found in many ordinances others appear in only a few. However, there is an inverse relationship between the age of the ordinance and the extent to which it includes sustainability principles. As ordinances are updated, it is likely that they will address more topical sustainability concerns. We study only ordinance content, not implementation; moreover, sustainability can be achieved in ways other than zoning. However, zoning ordinances that directly address sustainability in many dimensions are more likely to achieve these goals. We conclude that planners can more effectively use zoning ordinances to achieve sustainable development. 

Takeaway for practice: This review of zoning ordinances can alert local planners to the many ways in which zoning ordinances could be used to achieve sustainability goals and suggest how planners can assess the contribution of their zoning ordinance to the sustainable development of their communities. 

Stephen R. Miller



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