Why Can’t We Make Zoning Simpler?

Zoning Practice — January 2018

By Lee Einsweiler


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Zoning is one of the most important tools cities and counties have at their disposal to control the form and character of new development. The trouble is that many current zoning codes frustrate efforts to build projects that appear consistent with the local vision for community growth and change. This includes impediments and barriers such as restrictive lists, lot area and setback standards that do not match the underlying development pattern, density restrictions that create exclusionary communities, and onerous processes that do not improve the quality of development.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses historical and ongoing efforts to simplify zoning. It presents guiding principles for rethinking reform efforts and highlights a series of promising techniques for simplification.


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Date Published
Jan. 1, 2018
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Lee Einsweiler
Lee has been involved in planning, zoning and plan implementation in a variety of settings over the past 30 years. He sharpened his skills in the preparation of zoning and form-based codes across the country, and has been personally responsible for over 50 code projects, including the complete revision and adoption of over 30 citywide codes and the preparation of over 20 form-based codes. His combination of conventional zoning know-how and new code approaches are rare in the profession, and his ability to facilitate the consideration and adoption of new zoning serves his clients well.