Single-Family Zoning Versus the City, Mapped

There isn't much city in most U.S. cities.

1 minute read

June 18, 2019, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


trekandshoot / Shutterstock

Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui have released a big, ambitious mapping project for the New York Times that maps U.S. cities by single-family zoning and all other forms of residential zoning. The maps show clear domination of single-family zoning of the U.S. urban landscape in every city but New York and Washington, D.C.

"Single-family zoning is practically gospel in America, embraced by homeowners and local governments to protect neighborhoods of tidy houses from denser development nearby," according to the aperture of the article.

The article includes historical detail about the rise of single-family zoning in the 20th century, and recent tends in parts of the country (most notably, Minneapolis and the state of Oregon) to change the direction of urban environments by ending single-family zoning.

The maps are the stars of the show here, however. It's one thing to say that 75 percent of land in Los Angeles is zoned for single-family zoning. It's another to show it. Other cities mapped here are (Portland (77 percent), Seattle (81 percent), Charlotte (84 percent), Sandy Springs (85 percent), Arlington (89 percent), and San Jose (94 percent). Only two cities mapped in the article make a case for themselves as truly urban environments: Washington, D.C. (36 percent) and New York (15 percent). Badger and Bui used UrbanFootprint to create maps that illustrate that point.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in The New York Times

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