Zoning and Land-Use Tools in the Wildland-Urban Interface

Zoning Practice — September 2018

By Anna Read, AICP, Molly Mowery, AICP


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From wine country in California to suburban homes in Colorado to small towns in Tennessee, large wildfires threatening homes and communities are in the headlines more often than ever. As development increasingly spreads into areas that border or commingle with forests, grasslands, and other open spaces — an area known as the wildland-urban interface, or WUI — more communities are taking steps to proactively address the risks associated with wildfire.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how key characteristics of development in the WUI influence wildfire risk, and it highlights a range of land-use and development regulations that affect the extent, design, and ultimate safety of WUI development. These regulatory tools include zoning overlays, transfer of development rights, WUI codes, subdivision controls, defensible space regulations, landscaping standards, use-specific standards, and code enforcement.


Page Count
Date Published
Sept. 1, 2018
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Anna Read, AICP

Molly Mowery, AICP
Molly Mowery, AICP is Executive Director and co-founder of the non-profit organization Community Wildfire Planning Center and founder of Wildfire Planning International. As a certified planner with 20 years of experience, Ms. Mowery focuses on integrating wildfire hazard and resiliency with land use planning practices. She has authored, presented, and taught on land use planning and wildfire topics across the U.S. and internationally, including serving as lead author of APA’s PAS Report Planning the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), providing technical expertise on Canada’s National Guide for Wildland-Urban interface Fires, and developing and teaching WUI planning courses for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Ms. Mowery currently serves as chair of the APA’s Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Division. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Naropa University (Boulder, CO) and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA).