National Zoning Atlas Makes Headway

The project aims to bring zoning data from around the country into one database, making it easier for planners and researchers to compare policies and their impacts.

1 minute read

July 17, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Zoning map of New Hampshire

New Hampshire zoning map from the National Zoning Atlas. | National Zoning Atlas / National Zoning Atlas

An article in PD&R Edge highlights progress on the National Zoning Atlas, an effort to consolidate nationwide zoning data into one GIS database to let researchers analyze and compare zoning policies and their effects. “The purpose of the atlas is to offer insight into zoning’s effects and democratize land use decisionmaking through comprehensive, digitized, and user-friendly zoning information.”

The creators of the Zoning Atlas say “the decentralization of zoning laws has hindered the identification of problems arising from land use regulations.” The effort is already underway in 21 states, and almost complete in New Hampshire. 

“An ongoing challenge that the atlas can help address is the obfuscating effects of complex and competing land use interests to reform.” As the article explains, “Aggregating this information makes the scale of statewide challenges more readily apparent and could bring stakeholders on board to address the collective action problems that intricate zoning systems pose.” 

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