The Roots of American Planning

During the 1920s, the federal government passed a pair of laws that continue to this day to be hugely consequential to the modern practices of city planning and zoning. The two laws also planted the seeds of the planning profession.

What are these existential Acts? The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act (SZEA) of 1926 and the Standard City Planning Enabling Act (SCPEA) of 1928.

"In terms of the American experience, and even the international experience, these two Acts have been responsible for shaping our cities -- and for that matter, planning in our counties -- for close to a century," says Mitchell Silver in an interview with's weekly Laws That Shaped LA column

Silver is the President of the APA and Chief Planning and Economic Development Officer for Raleigh, North Carolina.

"To put this in context," Silver says, while discussing the late 19th and early 20th centuries, "people were flocking to the cities in massive quantities. Cities weren't equipped for mobility. There wasn't adequate housing or sanitation. People were getting sick and dying. So the reason why this is so significant is that it put in place model legislation that states could adopt, which could in turn enable cities, counties, towns and villages to put these mechanisms in place that helped manage and plan for growth."

Full Story: The Birth and Growth of City Planning


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