Reconsidering Zoning

Zoning Practice — January 2004

By Jerold Kayden



Zoning, as a comprehensive regulatory tool covering all land within a territory, has had a significant impact, for better and worse, on the design and quality of the built environment. With the ease of empirical, retrospective judgment, it is all too easy to criticize many of its outcomes, whether it be single-use, sterile districts or monolithic, faceless structures.

But that same judgment demonstrates the power of zoning to influence at wholesale, rather than retail, scales the look, feel, and content of the built environment. Indeed, from the progressive planners of the early decades of the 20th century to New York City's zoning innovators of the late 1960s and early 1970s to the New Urbanists of today, individuals have commandeered this technique and wielded its power to advance their own design visions, with evident demonstrations of impact and even success.

This issue of Zoning Practice identifies and examines significant themes that dominate, or should dominate, current debates about zoning and explores specific technical innovations that illuminate the thematic debates.


Page Count
Date Published
Jan. 1, 2004
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Jerold Kayden
Jerold Kayden is the Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design