Shared Spatial Regulating in Sharing-Economy Districts

77 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2015 Last revised: 16 Jul 2017

See all articles by Michael N. Widener

Michael N. Widener

Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Date Written: February 11, 2015


Technology, coupled with present economic conditions and the interest of younger Americans in sustainability, is enabling a climate favorable to collaborative consumption. More individuals will be engaged over time in this “sharing economy” because underemployment of the middle class, and a majority of all non- or under-skilled workers, is a chronic condition eluding public sector solution. This new resources “lending” and social networking culture - not your ordinary "home occupations" - assures ongoing introductions of sharing producers and consumers to each other and into residential neighborhoods. The results will include increased traffic trips, overtaxed curbside parking spaces, additional ambient noise and stress upon electric and other utility grids tapped by sharing enterprises. Since these neighborhood burdens are not addressed in the form of sales taxes or license fees returned directly to host enclaves, many of these burdens are borne uniquely by the neighboring dwellers. Local persons not participating in the sharing economy expect their daily routines to continue without interference from unfamiliar persons, noises and odors, free from the disadvantages of increased traffic and reduced curbside parking.

Communities now are challenged to regulate sharing uses in this new economic order while accommodating opportunities for such enterprises to generate revenue and taxes that will rebuild a struggling middle class. In one regard, accommodation invites struggles between established neighborhood dwellers and later - arriving sharing producers working outside zoning regulations. Yet outright prohibiting of entrepreneurial models in residential zoning districts counters local governments’ efforts to remake the economic and social landscape of urban communities, especially those precariously mired in joblessness, crime and other evidence of disorder. Many sharing economy voices argue that today’s good land use decisions mandate subordinating traditional-neighborhood inconvenience to this new economy's benefit to the larger community - serving thereby the “greater good.” This is among the first papers in American academic legal literature addressing how communities comprehensively can respond to this challenge, through productively modernizing governmental spatial regulatory prerogatives while incorporating “big data” along with crucial citizen inputs at this land use crossroads.

Keywords: sharing economy, collaborative consumption, new economy, technology, social media, Internet business, planning, zoning, land use, comprehensive plan, master plan, neighborhood councils, city planning

JEL Classification: H70, K11, K23, K42, O33, O38, R52

Suggested Citation

Widener, Michael N., Shared Spatial Regulating in Sharing-Economy Districts (February 11, 2015). Chapt. 15, Zoning and Planning Law Handbook, 2017 ed; 46 Seton Hall L. Rev. 111 (2015); Arizona Summit Law School Research Paper No. 2015-A-01. Available at SSRN: or

Michael N. Widener (Contact Author)

Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint ( email )

2325 East Camelback Road
Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85016
United States

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ( email )

Prescott, AZ 86301
United States

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