Not a member yet?Register now and get started.

lock and key

Sign in to your account.

Account Login

Zoning and Its Impact on Our Lives and Environment

14 May. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in Zoning, transportation, urban growth, suburb, sprawl, city development
Zoning, transportation, urban growth, suburb, sprawl, city development

Think of those old quaint downtowns with the welcoming storefronts, wide sidewalks and everything within a short walking distance. Then think about why we rarely, if ever, see new development such as these; the reason in part is zoning. Zoning, changes in lifestyle and a growing middle class spurred changes to the way new cities and suburbs developed.

The current and most common form of zoning is Euclidean Zoning. Euclidean Zoning utilizes land use classifications and building dimensions to regulate development. So unlike older parts of cities where houses and businesses are mixed, you get complete separation. You have residential areas and business districts that are connected not with sidewalks, but with highways.

Now this was fine 50 years ago when sprawl and suburban life was seen as a luxury, and automobiles were making it possible to escape from the pollution and violence of the cities. Today we must face the problems of Euclidean Zoning, while still progressing forward with our lifestyles and quality of living.

Some of the current problems with Euclidean Zoning include inefficient land use, inadequate transportation systems, pollution, and possible negative impacts on crime prevention and urban development. Euclidean Zoning may also contribute to socioeconomic segregation and lead to inadequate public facilities and services. Therefore addressing zoning regulations within and around developed cities may help improve our quality of living and environment.

In order to shift zoning patterns, we need to prioritize, make decisions based on these priorities, and communicate with elected officials. For example, zoning codes should promote public transportation, be pedestrian-friendly and lead to more efficient land use to help make urban growth, not sprawl, more sustainable. We are presented with a new set of development and growth problems that in part stem from unresolved problems from the past; and to address these new problems we need to expand beyond old traditions, philosophies and regulations. For example, we now recognize that leaving the city to live in the suburbs does not solve our crime and pollution problems, but may actually contribute to those issues.

Furthermore, zoning codes and the layout of cities is like cell phones and the Internet in that they all influence the way we interact with each other. Re-evaluating zoning codes and regulations can help us rebuild our local communities and reconnect locally. As your town or city expands, do you think residential areas and businesses should remain separated or should they be mixed to allow easier access from residents? In future zoning articles, we will be discussing alternative zoning codes and the problems they can help address, such as transportation, crime and pollution.

Updated 12/12/11

Call To Action: 

Evaluate your living situation
Attend town hall meetings
Contact local government officials

Zoning Matters: Types of Zoning Codes
“University of Pittsburgh Law Review”; Divide and Sprawl, Decline and Fall; Eliza Hall; 2007

Secondary Category: 

Post new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.