Evolving Challenges for Sustainable Growth
Edited by Roberta Capello and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho
Chapter 8: Land use regulation and regional form: a spatial mismatch?
In the United States, land use governance is organized around a system of so-called ‘home rule’ authority, wherein local governments are separately responsible for regulating the character, place and timing of growth and change that occurs within their boundaries. Although state and regional agencies are increasingly involved in the process – through various legislative frameworks – in most cases it is localities that are ultimately responsible, if not accountable, via their collective actions, for the regional outcome of development. This spatial mismatch is the source of one of the most vexing problems faced in contemporary urban and regional development: although localism can serve individual communities well, it commonly serves the regions they are situated in poorly because it fragments a regulatory process that might be more effective if pursued from a broader, more cohesive perspective. Resolving the problem is complicated and controversial but, first, it must be understood in a holistic way. Toward that end, this chapter develops an overview of the American system of land use regulation and illustrates a method of empirically evaluating its relationship to regional form. The three objectives are to: (i) provide a historical review of land use regulation, plus an explanation of its normative goals, from the earliest zoning laws to still-emerging ‘smart growth’ and other legislative approaches; (ii) explain the spatially interlocking fabric of local land use regulation that extends across most metropolitan areas and identify its impacts in a way that clarifies the need for urban and regional planners to find ways of addressing the spatial mismatch between implementation and outcomes; and (iii) set out a theoretical framework and relevant empirical strategy for examining how land use regulation influences regional form.
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