Celebrating 65 Years of Research and the Planning Advisory Service

In 2009, the planning profession commemorated its first centennial. That year also marked the 60th anniversary of the Planning Advisory Service Report series. APA's Research Department and PAS are honoring this important milestone by exploring the past six decades of PAS Reports — starting with 1949's Information Report No. 1.

Each month, we revisit the PAS archives and select an early report to share with you online. These historic reports provide a fascinating snapshot of our profession and the important planning issues of those earlier times.

You may be surprised how much has changed — and how much is still the same!

PAS Report No 133 cover


No. 1: Building Lines, Mapped Streets, Set Backs, Front Yards (1949)

The first bulletin of what would become the PAS Report series was created in response to "many inquiries concerning the establishment of building placement lines." The report offers definitions and case law, discusses eminent domain and the police power, and summarizes state legislation.

No. 2: Elimination of Non-Conforming Uses (1949)

Examine the range of approaches that local governments were taking to the removal of nonconforming uses in 1949.

No. 3: Titles and Salaries of Selected Planning Positions (1949)

This 1949 report lists salaries for a range of planning positions — from Director of Planning to Associate Planner to "City Plan Effectuator" — from a number of U.S. cities classified by population.

No. 5: Conversions of Large Single-Family Dwellings to Multiple-Family Dwellings (1949)

This 1949 report surveys zoning regulations to provide for single-family to multifamily conversions and to address the potential impacts of increased density on these formerly single-family districts.

No. 6: Architectural Controls (1949)

PAS surveyed the 40 municipalities reported to have some type of architectural control, providing a historic snapshot of early aesthetic zoning regulations from across the country.


No. 12: Trailers and Trailer Camps in the Community (1950)

A look at the "trailerites" of the early 1950s and trailer camp regulations from communities across the country.

No 13: Street Naming and House Numbering Systems (1950)

An early 1950s look at the whys and hows of labeling the built environment.

No. 15: Self-Service Gasoline Stations (1950)

Back when gas cost 5 cents a gallon, self-service gasoline stations were controversial. Fear of fires and explosions caused by inexperienced motorists led some cities and states to ban self-service.

No. 16: Cemeteries in the City Plan (1950)

Some straight talk on planning for death in the early 1950s, including an unusual "perpetual cemetery" approach from Basel, Switzerland.

No. 19: The Planning Commission — Its Composition and Function (1950)

A survey of 60 selected city and county agencies with planning commissions, offering a detailed snapshot of who was involved in the local planning process more than half a century ago.

No 22: Community Inducements to Industry (1951)

A 1951 take on a still-fresh question: What can — or should — local governments offer corporations to attract factories and other economic development opportunities?

No 23: Capital Improvement Programming — Some Considerations (1951)

Reiterates the importance of the planner's role and discusses some of the considerations involved in capital improvement programming.

No 26: The Journey to Work: Relation Between Employment and Residence (1951)

This report from the early 1950s reviews journey-to-work studies to determine what "price" people are willing to pay for a job in terms of commuting time and cost.

No. 32: Performance Standards in Industrial Zoning (1951)

The reprint of a paper that introduced and outlined this concept, considered one of the most important contributions to zoning at the time.

No. 34: The Special District: A New Zoning Development (1952)

An exploration of a cutting-edge zoning development of the early 1950s. The special district began to break down the "airtight" tripartite divisions of residential, commercial, and industrial use.

No. 36: Planning for School Capacities and Location (1952)

Makes the case that school planning should be connected to comprehensive planning and provides guidance to planners on how to project future school facility needs.

No. 37: Minimum Requirements for Lot and Building Size (1952)

Although minimum lot or building size requirements have fallen out of favor over the past several decades, variations on this theme were still fairly common in local codes of the 1950s.

No. 46: Public Open Space in Subdivisions (1953)

This report from 1953 analyzes the various types of early parkland dedication ordinances and emphasizes the importance of addressing park needs in the comprehensive plan.

No. 48: Performance Bonds for the Installation of Subdivision Improvements (1953)

A report on a 1953 survey of PAS subscribers' experiences with performance bonding and other strategies to ensure that subdivision developers finish what they start.

No. 50: Zone Locations for Hospitals and Other Medical Facilities (1953)

This report helped planners with zoning for the new "general hospital," where integrated rather than specialized medical care could serve most residents' health-related needs.

No. 53: Flood Plain Regulation (1953)

Review a range of floodplain control regulations from the early 1950s to see structural attempts to control flooding and regulatory approaches to prevent or limit flood damage.

No. 54: Zoning Regulation of Home Occupations (1953)

A look at the basis for regulating home occupations and the common points found in home occupation ordinances of the early 1950s.

No. 55: Nurseries and Day Care Centers (1953)

An exploration of why child care was needed in the early 1950s and new standards for the regulation of nurseries and day care centers.

No. 59: Site Design, Parking and Zoning for Shopping Centers (1954)

In 1954, this report told planners what they needed to know about shopping center site design and parking requirements.

No. 69: Organization Charting (1954)

From the perspective of the the early 1950s, take a look at the practice of organization charting: putting down on paper the positions that exist within the planning department. 


No. 74: Hot Rods, Car Clubs and Drag Strips (1955)

Learn how car clubs could turn reckless and inexperienced young drivers into forces for safety and courtesy on the roads.

No. 77: Neighborhood Business Districts (1955)

An exploration of zoning provisions for neighborhood business and convenience store districts in 1955 and a look at the ways in which cities used zoning to regulate these areas.

No. 85: Animals in Urban Areas (1956)

A look back at zoning provisions from the 1950s that sought to minimize potential animal nuisance impacts on communities while also allowing for related uses such as animal hospitals.

No. 86: Land Development Ordinances: Grading; Curb Cuts and Driveways; Street Trees (1956)

Learn about grading, curb cuts, and street trees as topics better addressed outside the zoning code.

No. 93: Migratory Labor Camps in the Community (1956)

A 1956 primer for planners on migrant labor camps, with sample and model language to regulate the facilities.

No. 95: Sidewalks in the Suburbs (1957)

When are sidewalks necessary? PAS first addressed the issue in this 1957 report, which recommends where and how sidewalks should be installed in residential areas.

No. 96: New Developments in Architectural Control (1957)

By the late 1950s, architectural controls had been used by cities to control appearances for several decades. Get a rundown of controls in suburbia, plus a new wrinkle: anti-look-alike provisions.

No. 97: Funeral Homes (1957)

A question from the 1950s: Because the funeral home is not appropriate for residential districts but requires protection from the noisy environment of commercial areas, where should it go?

No. 98: Fire House Location Planning (1957)

Revisit 1950s recommendations for where and how to plan for fire station development.

No. 104: Industrial Renewal Research (1957)

Studies from the '50s examining the factors contributing to industrial obsolescence and predicting industrial facility trends of the future — many of which came to pass.

No. 105: Rooming Houses (1957)

Guidance from 1957 on how to clearly define and regulate rooming houses as well as a related use, fraternities and sororities.

No. 106: Churches and Planning Controls (1958)

A look at the midcentury religious landscape in the U.S. and how local communities had begun regulating these uses.

No. 107: Check Lists for Planning Operations (1958)

A set of audit checklists to allow planners to evaluate their public works programming, public relations, subdivision control, and zoning.

No. 108: Liquor Outlets (1958)

Late '50s planners got an overview of the liquor business and how it was licensed and regulated.

No. 110: Bowling Alleys (1958)

Learn about bowling's evolution from an inner-city men's-only game to a "socially acceptable" suburban pastime for the entire family.

No 111: Floor Area Ratio (1958)

By the late 1950s, floor area ratio was being acclaimed as a new and ingenious way of making zoning ordinances more flexible.

No 113: Fences (1958)

In the late 1950s, good fences made good neighbors — until someone tried to regulate the fence.

No 114: Annexation Studies (1958)

A useful overview of the issues involved in annexation in the late '50s, and a clear process for calculation of the costs.

No. 115: Amending the Zoning Ordinance (1958)

A nuts-and-bolts topic. What can be done to safeguard and improve procedure within the boundaries of enabling statutes?

No. 123: Planning Pays (1959)

See the results of a 1959 survey asking planning directors for examples of how planning saves both local governments and taxpayers money.

No. 125: Central Business District Goals (1959)

This late 1950s report exhorts planners to set clear goals for the improvements of their downtown central business districts and highlights the importance of public-private partnerships.


No. 133: Zoning Buffers: Solutions or Panacea? (1960)

A thoughtful discussion of use buffers and landscape buffers, two common tools used to mitigate potential land use incompatibilities.

No. 134: The Press, The Public, and Planning (1960)

Fifty years ago, the appropriateness of "selling" plans and policies to the community was still debated by some planners.

No. 139: Planning for Apartments (1960)

In 1960, multifamily housing was put forth as an increasingly "realistic alternative" to single-family detached homes.

No. 141: Neighborhood Boundaries (1960)

How should planners define neighborhoods? Where is the fine line between ethnic enclave and ghetto?

No. 142: Fads: Karts and Tumbling Centers (1961)

The early 1960s was a time of fads in American culture. Two that had land-use implications were go-karts and tumbling centers.

No. 145: Regulation of Mobile Home Subdivisions (1961)

What did planners in the early '60s think about the shape and design of mobile home subdivisions?

No. 148: Planning and an Aging Population (1961)

How well have planners addressed the questions of providing adequate housing and services for the elderly since this report was issued in 1961?

No. 150: Audio-Visual Aids and Equipment (1961)

The feltboards and overhead projectors in this report may be dated, but tips on how to structure a successful presentation are still helpful.

No. 159: Condominium (1962)

An early look at the condominium concept and its implications for planning and zoning.

No. 160: New Techniques for Shaping Urban Expansion (1962)

This report critiques traditional development controls of the time and offers a look ahead from 1962 to new techniques and emerging programs.

No 164: Row Houses (1962)

Sample designs and regulations that helped 1962 planners add this housing choice to the mix of apartments and single-family homes in their communities.

No. 165: Illustrating the Zoning Ordinance (1962)

This report makes the case for illustrations and diagrams in the zoning code, demonstrating how graphics can be used to clarify definitions, regulations, provisions, and administrative processes.

No. 175: School Site Selection (1963)

Planners are encouraged to become more involved in school site selection by using the offered checklists and rating forms to compare the suitability of alternatives.

No. 177: Highway-Oriented and Urban Arterial Commercial Areas (1963)

Business location theory is reviewed to clarify the role of strip or "ribbon" development, and planning studies are examined to suggest ways to regulate these challenging areas.

No. 185: Nursing Homes (1964)

Definitions and zoning standards for nursing homes and related facilities as mid-1960s planners were beginning to think about how to house and care for a population that was living longer.

No. 186: Air Rights (1964)

Learn the background, scope, and outlook for air rights development across the country as seen by planners in 1964.

No. 190: Parking Lot Aesthetics (1964)

Planners have struggled with the "unpleasant effects" of parking lots for more than a half-century.

No. 192: Periodicals for Planning Agencies (1964)

A selection of 37 planning-related periodicals the Planning Advisory Service deemed most relevant to PAS subscribers in 1964.


No. 194: Standards for Outdoor Recreational Areas (1965)

An outline of mid-century development and design standards for playgrounds and parks ... as well as golf courses, ski areas, and other outdoor recreational facilities.

No. 198: Helicopters (1965)

A mid-1960s examination of the costs and benefits of helicopter travel and a look at the regulations needed to make a place for this use in cities across the country.

No. 199: The Pedestrian Count (1965)

By the 1960s, planners and traffic engineers had begun to address pedestrian circulation and mobility in CBD plans, and realized that more data were needed to support these efforts.

No. 201: The Disposal of Junked Cars (1965)

In 1965, when Americans were junking more than 5 million cars, junked cars and automobile graveyards had become concerns for planners and officials.

No. 209: The Elimination of Nonconforming Signs (1966)

In the early days of zoning, planners assumed that placing restrictions on a nonconforming sign would eliminate it. This didn't always work, so many communities adopted amortization provisions.

No. 210: School Enrollment by Housing Type (1966)

Studies found that single-family housing tended to generate more school students per unit than multifamily housing in the late years of the Baby Boom.

No. 211: Administration and Management in a Planning Office (1966)

How does your planning office stack up to these best practices from 1966?

No. 212: Air Zoning: An Application of Air Resource Management (1966)

In the years before the Clean Air Act, it was up to state, regional, or local bodies to adopt their own regulations.

No. 214: Parking in Residential Areas (1966)

What did municipal parking standards for single-family homes and multifamily dwellings look like back in 1966?

No. 217: Annual Reports (1966)

An examination of the annual report, providing suggestions on how planning agencies of the 1960s could make the most of this document.

No. 218: Regulating Storage of Major Recreational Equipment (1967)

By 1967 there were more than 1.2 million RVs in use. But where would these campers, trailers, and boats be stored when not in use?

No. 226: The Authority of the Zoning Administrator (1967)

The position of zoning administrator was pioneered in the 1960s by a few cities and counties in response to the growing complexity of zoning regulations and the increasing volume of cases.

No. 231: Planning the Airport Environment (1968)

A summary of airport planning issues as understood in 1968 — a fascinating look at the early days of this now-common transportation mode.

No. 235: New Physical Forms for City Schools (1968)

A peek into the future of city schools as seen from the perspective of 1968.

No. 236: Trees in the City (1968)

A "dispassionate" early look at tree protection efforts from a time when PAS could find only six communities in the U.S. with tree preservation ordinances.

No. 237: Height Regulation in Residential Districts (1968)

A call for a smarter approach to regulating building height than doing it "simply and very badly."

No. 240: Public Hearings, Controversy, and the Written Response (1968)

A no-nonsense 1968 warning for planners to use clear, concise language, prepare adequately for public hearings, and genuinely listen to the public's suggestions for better planning decisions.

No. 241: Planning the Public Library (1968)

In the 1960s, planners were being called upon to help plan for libraries in their communities. This report offered guidelines for making recommendations on siting and facilities needs.