Is it Time to Ditch Zoning?

As mixed-use development increasingly supersedes single-use development, Roger K. Lewis argues that we should retire the word "zoning" and its outdated "characterization of how we plan and shape growth."

Although we still need land-use regulation, says Lewis, "zoning increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term." In an era in which elements typically regulated by zoning such as parking requirements, height limits, and maximum densities are becoming flexible and negotiable, Lewis argues that the term, and its conventions, have become obsolete.

"Principles and methods of land use planning, transportation, regulation and real estate development are changing, as are demographics and social norms," he writes. "Zoning conventions are no longer conventional. Throughout metropolitan Washington, zoning transformations are evident in dozens of new development or redevelopment projects."

"Planning and zoning predicated on accommodating cars are now giving way to transit-oriented development patterns. Uses and densities are now being tweaked in areas served by rail, subway, streetcar and bus rapid-transit lines. Street and block networks are being configured, or reconfigured, to accommodate pedestrians and bikers, as well as cars and commercial vehicles."

"Dropping the word 'zoning' necessitates using an alternative vocabulary. It’s time to talk less about zoning restrictions and limits and more about visionary plans, urban design goals and architectural aspirations."

Full Story: As land use planning changes, ‘zoning’ is no longer appropriate

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