Local Regulating of Drone Activity in Lower Airspace
Chapt. 19, Zoning and Planning Law Handbook, 2017 ed.
Arizona Summit Law School Paper Series No. 2016-A-02
22 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2016 Last revised: 16 Jul 2017
Date Written: February 15, 2016
Avenues for local government participation in UAV regulation reside in the land planning and zoning processes of cities and metropolitan areas (including via regional transportation planning). My essay explains how land use governance relates intimately to aerial regulation of commercial drones. Soon enough, drone over-flight will affect profoundly cargo transportation inside a community’s boundaries and the quality of life of everyone who lives within them.
My essay describes typical spatial planning and zoning mechanisms (and innovative tweaks to those) that logically interface with low-altitude federal regulation of airspace. The paper speculates on what sorts of local regulations can and should survive scrutiny from the FAA, the drone lobby, municipal governance players, state actors and federal courts. The essay ends by forecasting steps through which local influence builds toward joint control with lower airspace federal regulators in the U.S. Congress and at the federal Department of Transportation.
Keywords: drones, UAVs, UAS, freight delivery, cargo delivery, last mile delivery, FAA, local regulation, municipal regulation, local zoning, general plan, land use policy, preemption, commerce clause, freight transportation, cargo movement, airspace, NASA, supremacy clause
JEL Classification: H70, L62, L93, L98, O38, Q15, R14, R48, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation