Models for Mitigating Wildfire Hazards Through Zoning

Zoning Practice — March 2005

By James Schwab, FAICP, Stuart Meck, FAICP



Wildfires have a nasty habit of grabbing the entire nation's attention with televised images: forests aflame, conflagrations licking at and then overwhelming communities at the urban edge, people returning to a home that has been reduced to rubble. If zoning even enters the discussion as people react, it is often as they ask, "Why are those people living out there anyway?"

Both zoning and subdivision ordinances can address wildfire hazards by implementing a number of policy options to curb the problem. Most important are the community's criteria for designating the wildland/urban interface.

This issue of Zoning Practice profiles model ordinances and local regulations aimed at protecting communities from the dangers associated with development in wildfire areas.


Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2005
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

James Schwab, FAICP
Jim Schwab earned MAs in Urban and Regional Planning and Journalism from the University of Iowa. From 1985-1990, he was assistant editor of Planning, then moved to the APA Research Department as senior research associate. From 2007-2017, he served as manager of the APA Hazards Planning Center. Since leaving APA on May 31, 2017, he has been principal of Jim Schwab Consulting LLC, as well as an author, speaker, and continuing his role since 2008 as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. He is an accomplished author and has been responsible in whole or in part for 11 different PAS Reports. In 2016, in recognition of his "pivotal role" in helping create the new subfield of hazards planning, he was inducted into FAICP. Two years later, the Association of State Floodplain Managers awarded him its highest honor, the Goddard-White Award, in recognizing his national impact on the field of floodplain management. He is currently immediate past chair of the Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division and leading an effort to create a documentary film about the role of planning in helping communities address natural disasters and climate change.

Stuart Meck, FAICP
My website: