Discretionary Approval

Governors Island - South Island Rezoning

What Are Zoning Amendments?

Zoning amendments change the existing zoning code by either of two methods: changing the text of the zoning code or changing the zoning map.

September 8, 2022 - James Brasuell

Side-by-side brick duplexes pictured on a sunny day.

What Is a Non-Conforming Use?

A non-conforming use is an existing building that would not be built under current land use regulations. While esoteric, the term is nonetheless critical to understanding the changes in development regulations over time.

July 13, 2022 - James Brasuell

Single-Family Housing Construction

What Is an Entitlement?

In the context of planning and development, an entitlement is the legal agreement between a government and a landowner to allow a proposed development.

February 22, 2022 - James Brasuell


What Is Discretionary Approval?

Discretionary approval requires an appointed or elected body of officials to decide whether or not to proceed with a development. Discretionary approval is usually reserved for development proposals that don't conform to zoning or building codes, but other regulatory triggers can also create the need for a discretionary approval process.

February 8, 2022 - James Brasuell

A sunny day in San Francisco, with a view of the city skyline with the Easy Bay Hills in the background.

Development Streamlining Proposal Dies in San Francisco

The doomed effort was Mayor London Breed's third attempt to streamline development in the city.

January 31, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle


Fort Worth City Council Wants to Pause Apartment Developments

A trio of Fort Worth city councilmembers are trying to hit the brakes on the recent wave of multi-family housing developments requiring zoning changes in the growing city.

January 14, 2021 - Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Chicago, Illinois

'Anti-Conversion Ordinance' Considered in Chicago

New zoning controls would make it harder to convert multi-unit residential buildings into single-family homes to prevent displacement in single-family neighborhoods in Chicago.

December 4, 2020 - The Daily Line


Voters Could Get the Chance to Ease Development Restrictions in San Francisco

A ballot initiative by San Francisco Mayor London Breed would make it easier for qualifying developments (e.g., developments that include affordable housing) to sidestep discretionary approvals.

February 6, 2020 - The New York Times

Suburban Homes

Discretionary Approval for McMansions

Redwood City, located on the San Francisco Peninsula, will make it harder to build homes that take up more than 45 percent of a residential lot.

August 28, 2019 - The Mercury News

Venice Canals

Report: Lack of Apartments Contributes to the Housing Affordability Crisis

It's going to take "radical policies" and "political courage" to overcome the housing shortage in California, according to a recent working paper, but they will be necessary to overcome the negative consequences of the planning and zoning status quo.

July 12, 2019 - Terner Center for Housing Innovation

Ontario City

Opinion: Less Is More When it Comes to Politics in Planning

A proposal from the provincial government of Ontario would revive an appeals process for planning and development processes in Toronto. An elected official and former planner writes to oppose the idea.

May 13, 2019 - Spacing Toronto

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