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

Zoning Practice — September 2018

By Anna Read, AICP, Molly Mowery, AICP


ZP subscriber
List price
Sign In & Download

Not a member but want to buy a copy? You'll need to create a free My APA account to purchase. Create account

This edition of Zoning Practice is available free to all.

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
Anna Read is a co-author of the forthcoming PAS report, “Planning the Wildland-Urban Interface.' She previously worked as a Senior Program Development and Research Associate in the American Planning Association’s Washington, D.C. office, where she conducted applied research within APA's National Centers for Planning. Prior to joining APA, she worked on regional broadband planning efforts for the state of Missouri and as a project manager for the International City/County Management Association's Center for Sustainable Communities.  She has a Master's degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University. 

Molly Mowery, AICP
Molly Mowery, AICP is Executive Director for the non-profit organization Community Wildfire Planning Center and founder of Wildfire Planning International. For more than 15 years, Molly has been a pioneer in integrating wildfire hazard mitigation with land use planning practices. Molly has developed land use planning programs and trainings, including wildland-urban interface planning courses for FEMA and CAL FIRE, and served as the lead author of the American Planning Association publication Planning the Wildland-Urban Interface. Molly has worked with communities across the U.S. and Canada, and drafted land use planning guidance for the National Research Council of Canada’s National Guide for Wildland-Urban interface Fires. Molly frequently presents on wildfire planning topics and provided the Norman Williams Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Planning and Law hosted by the Vermont Law School in 2021. She is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners and chair-elect of the APA Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division. Molly earned a bachelor of arts from Naropa University (Boulder, CO) and a master in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA).