Using Generative AI to Draft Zoning Codes

Zoning Practice — October 2023

By Norman Wright, AICP


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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a topic of conversation for many years now. Yet, it was the advent of new consumer products like ChatGPT that helped the broader public see how disruptive (and transformative) the technology can be. Five minutes with any of the large language models available online will quickly demonstrate the incredible speed, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of information these tools produce. None of the models are perfect, of course, but limitations are often greater than we realize.

Yet, it is clear that artificial intelligence tools — specifically, the kind that produces generative text and images — are here to stay. The most popular products receive enormous amounts of investment and are on a rapid trajectory for mainstream usage in every industry. Planning is no exception.

This issue of Zoning Practice introduces key concepts related to the common use of today's generative AI models and then provides an overview of experiments done to test the current strengths and weaknesses for developing zoning policies at the local level. As you'll see, there is a lot for us all to learn — including the models themselves. The current products have limited abilities, but the potential is boundless.


Page Count
Date Published
Oct. 1, 2023
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Norman Wright, AICP
Norman Wright is the founder and principal at Parameter, a consulting firm dedicated to improving local government. From 2005 to 2022, he served as a local government executive over-seeing planning, development, and many public services in cities and counties in Oregon, Colo-rado, Tennessee, and South Carolina. He holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Clemson University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.