Need for Revision of Zoning Laws
Revision of municipal zoning ordinances to correct defects whose consequences were thrown into bold relief during the depression will be undertaken by city councils in all parts of the country in future months. The need for early zoning revision is held to be the more urgent because of the likelihood of a boom in urban real estate. At the same time, proposals for the extension of the principle of zoning to rural areas will be brought forward in many of the 43 state legislatures meeting in regular session this year. A recent development, rural zoning has thus far been authorized by law in only three states, although part-rural and part-urban land areas may be zoned in about 20 states.
Zoning is a device for ordering the growth and development of both urban and rural areas. It has been defined as “the regulation by districts under the police power of the height, bulk, and use of buildings, the use of land, and the density of population.” Zoning has been adopted in some 1,200 municipalities in the United States since 1916, when New York City enacted the first complete zoning ordinance. Nearly all urban zoning laws, however, have provided for a far greater growth of population than is likely to occur. According to one authority:
The original zoning of many cities allowed too great density and set apart too great areas for business and industry. Usually this happened because there was not time for careful discrimination. All zoning was problematical in the early days and there was a distinct tendency for the authorities to be unnecessarily liberal. There is today a general desire on the part of city councils, and still more on the part of planning commissions, to review and amend the zoning maps.