The Structure of the Land Use Regulatory System in the United States
Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law, Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 441, 2007
84 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2007 Last revised: 21 Nov 2007
The land use regulatory system has been criticized for causing or failing to solve social problems and for perceived inherent defects, such as inefficiency, inequality, and environmental harm. These criticisms fail to understand the land use regulatory system in the United States as a dynamic, functional, adaptive system.
This paper systematically analyzes the: 1) functions; 2) location and scale; 3) components; 4) processes; and 5) values of the land use regulatory system in the United States. If we are to improve our land use practices to be fairer, more efficient, and more ecologically responsible, we must understand how land use planning and regulation function and change over time.
Particular attention is given to the role of land use regulation as a mediator between people and places, between communities and power, and between freedom and boundaries. Additional attention is given to the broad array of forces shaping land use decisions, the "thinness" of land use law as a set of rules and limits (contrasted with its role as a source of tools, authority, and discretion), and the "patchiness" of land use regulatory authority in the United States.
This paper also examines a specific issue of law and policy: the extent to which the land use regulatory system can value and conserve ecosystem services - the humanly beneficial services that nature provides. The paper explores both barriers to and opportunities for accounting for ecosystem services in land use planning and regulation.
Keywords: land use, urban planning, zoning, regulation, ecosystem services, ecosystems, adaptation, complex systems, geography, discretion, sprawl, functionality, environmental ethics, land ethic, place, places, community power, freedom and boundaries, natural capital, political forces, social forces, ecology
JEL Classification: K11, K23, 021, Q24, Q25, Q26, Q28, R14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation