Building a National Zoning Atlas: Scaling Transparency & Consistency

Date(s) - Jul 20, 2022
10:00 am - 11:30 am

Host: APA Technology Division
CM | 1.5

CM #9251066

Zoning codes, adopted by thousands of local governments across the country, dictate much of what can be built in the United States. While each zoning code can be written slightly differently, they are commonly slight iterations on a similar theme. Planners are quite familiar with the direct and indirect impacts of zoning codes and development regulations can have on housing availability, transportation, education, the food supply, economic opportunity, and access to nature. Although understanding zoning is critical to good planning, zoning codes are written in ways that make it difficult to communicate in a consistent and transparent way. Cornell University’s Legal Constructs Lab is leading an effort to create a national zoning atlas could help us better understand these sometimes-opaque but incredibly influential codes by depicting their key attributes in an online, user-friendly map spanning multiple jurisdictions. A national atlas will help people better understand zoning, which would in turn broaden participation in land use decisions, identify opportunities for zoning reform, and narrow a wide information gap that favors those with the time and expertise to parse through them. Such an atlas could be a goldmine for understanding what works and what does not. This is because it would enable comparisons across jurisdictions, illuminate regional and statewide trends, and strengthen national planning for housing production, transportation infrastructure, and climate response. This Technology Division sponsored webinar will cover the current status of the project, and provide information with how planners can contribute to this effort.