Applying Algorithms to Land-Use Decision Making

Zoning Practice — March 2019

By Norman Wright, AICP


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Every planner has a set of variables and values that they consider when judging a land-use proposal. Informally, we think of these as our expert intuitions, the sort of thinking that we developed through years of experience and training. In a formal sense, these are known as algorithms, and they create a formula for how we make decisions. When we deliberately write this formula as an explicit algorithm, we can combine it with data and create a more transparent, consistent, and adaptable approach to decision making.

This edition of Zoning Practice reviews simple methods for defining and applying a decision algorithm for land-use cases and briefly explores methods that improve the approach.


Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2019
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Norman Wright, AICP