Zoning of Urban and Rural Areas

January 14, 1937

Report Outline
Need for Revision of Zoning Laws
Development of Urban Zoning
Consequences of Faulty Zoning
Development of Rural Zoning

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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Urban Planning
Jun. 03, 2022  The Future of the City
Jun. 04, 2021  Rebuilding America's Infrastructure
Aug. 21, 2020  Economic Clustering
Nov. 01, 2019  Caregiving Crunch
Jul. 27, 2012  Smart Cities
Apr. 09, 2010  Earthquake Threat
Apr. 2009  Rapid Urbanization
Jun. 23, 2006  Downtown Renaissance Updated
May 28, 2004  Smart Growth
Oct. 03, 1997  Urban Sprawl in the West
Mar. 21, 1997  Civic Renewal
Oct. 13, 1995  Revitalizing the Cities
Jun. 09, 1989  Not in My Back Yard!
Apr. 28, 1989  Do Enterprise Zones Work?
Nov. 22, 1985  Supercities: Problems of Urban Growth
Jul. 23, 1982  Reagan and the Cities
Nov. 18, 1977  Saving America's Cities
Oct. 31, 1975  Neighborhood Control
Nov. 21, 1973  Future of the City
Feb. 07, 1973  Restrictions on Urban Growth
May 20, 1970  Urbanization of the Earth
Nov. 06, 1968  New Towns
Oct. 04, 1967  Private Enterprise in City Rebuilding
Feb. 10, 1965  Megalopolis: Promise and Problems
Mar. 04, 1964  City Beautiful
Aug. 21, 1963  Urban Renewal Under Fire
Jan. 21, 1959  Metropolitan Areas and the Federal Government
Jul. 30, 1958  Persistence of Slums
Dec. 09, 1953  Outspreading Cities
Nov. 22, 1952  Slum Clearance: 1932–1952
Jan. 14, 1937  Zoning of Urban and Rural Areas
Regional Planning and Urbanization