Adoption and Impacts of Zonal Laws in the Washington DC


Adoptionand Impacts of Zonal Laws in the Washington DC


Descriptionof zonal laws

Impactsof zonal laws


Zoningcontrols the use of property, development of land and the extent ofdevelopment on the property. Zoning divides the whole community intoseveral districts or different zones. The zones tend to be displayedon the municipality’s zoning map. Properties in all districts areregulated with uniform zoning regulations. The restrictions, usually,govern the development and use of property. In New York, amunicipality has a choice to whether or not to initiate zonings andhow they should work in the community. Zonings tend to complimentcommunities planning goals. For instance, the needs of businesses andresidents are addressed in the municipality. The rules also protectthe health and safety of the value of the property. For the purposesof enhancing health and safety, local laws are used. The lawsregulate the number of storey building and the size they should be.Similarly, open spaces are adopted population density is adjustedand land is designed for respective purposes.

Thestatute of the local government provides powers of adopting,amending, and even repeals the zoning regulations via adoption oflocal laws. Traditionally the zoning laws were the domain of thelocal rather than state governments. In Washington DC, thelegislature authorized cities and counties to adopt land use plans.The plan adopted zoning controls in the year 1937. However, thezoning controls and planning were to be optional. The city modeled anational environmental policy act that was to address theenvironmentalism. The act was under sponsorship of the senator HenryJackson. The bill suddenly failed and therefore co-optionally tookits mandates alongside the zoning and planning policies. Washingtoncounties and cities had to prepare detailed plans for very manyyears. 1

However,the adoption of growth management meant a new meaning by enacting theGrowth management act (GMA). The legislation was enacted to addressthe concerns of environmental protection, suburban sprawls, qualityof life, and other related issues. The law has been amended seventimes thus put into various chapters. The GMA requires that allfastest growing cities and counties to plan extensively in thekeeping of states goals. The goals consisted of sprawl reduction,property rights, natural resources, regional transportation, permitprocessing, affordable housing, public facilities and services,economic development and open space creation. The law also provided aframework to coordinate and plan for the countywide adoptionpolicies. The policy was to also establish urban growth areas. Thelocal plans were to include housing, land use, capital facilities,transportation, and utilities for counties. The zonal law was tocomply with comprehensive development regulations. All the proceduresfor zoning were followed by Washington in its implementation for landuse controls.

Zoninglaws, usually, regulate familiar places and tend to affect directlythe use of private properties. Therefore, specific procedures aredesigned to regulate the adoption of zoning. The procedures arefollowed and if breached then they have to face the court actions.All cities in the New York have adopted the zoning law. The adoptionprocedure establishes the municipality’s initial regulations thatconsist of various steps. They include:

  1. Creation of the entire zoning commission

  2. The scheduling of zoning commission performances through engaging public participation and delivering final reports

  3. Comprehensive assessment of the environment and other related plans

  4. Local governing board performances, public hearings, and the release of the notice

  5. Local government referrals to the regional county planning agency

  6. Enactment of procedures such as the voting and entry of minutes

  7. Publication, filing, posting, and creation of an effective date.

Azoning commission has various mandates. They include recommending theboundaries of the real zoning districts govern appropriateregulations, making of preliminary reports, holding public hearingsand pass the zoning law. The main purpose of the zoning commission isto careful monitor cases of hurriedly adoption of zoning. Thecommission is a separate body parallel to the local government board.The commission works under a minimal of ten members and with nomaximum limit. They hold public meetings according to the Article 7of the Public Officers Law. The New York zoning acts had no specificrequirements that relate to the zoning commissions’ public hearingnotice. However, it entails the governing boards notice. The noticeprovides requirement for conducting its mandates prior to the mainadoption of the zoning law (Village Laws cap. 7, Town Law cap. 264).The commission, therefore, oversees the general adoption procedures.The adoption of the resolution is only done after the approval by thelocal governing board. It only takes place after the zoningcommission issues final report, and then the bill is taken intoexistence.

Priorto adoption of zonal law, the local government should undertake theenvironmental assessment. The assessment is done by the Stateenvironmental quality review acts (SEQRA). The mandate of the body isto consider and incorporate environmental factors into review,planning, and decision-making processes.

Exclusionzoning refers to the adoption of zoning ordinances that exclude atype of people from a given community. The mechanism started gainingprominence in use of land regulation in the Washington DC in the 20thcentury. 2The policy is still extensively under use despite various resistancesfrom activists. According to the country, the notion that the powerstate could not be interfered with private property tends to beupheld. Most citizens were, usually, concerned with theirneighborhoods whereabouts. Due to this, the Americans largelydisapproved any attempts relating to the exclusionary zoning.

Urbanizationtook place in the 20th century transformed the country. Thetransformation was also propelled by the presence of more immigrants.The diversity increased between the middle and upper classes. Theyconceived the approach of allowing unwanted people into their areas.Many cities started adopting the first exclusionary zoning policies.Los Angeles adopted its first zoning ordinances in 1908. The unwantedcommunities had restrictions from obtaining residential areas in theLos Angeles from entrance. The regulations excluded ethnic and racialminorities from accessing community residences. The situationcontinued until when the zoning law was declared unconstitutional.However, the exclusionary ordinances gained popularity adverselythroughout the country.

WashingtonDC government took the initiative to address the increasedutilization of the exclusionary zoning. Standard state zoningenabling act enactment took place in the years 1922. The legislationintroduced the institutional frameworks for the zoning ordinances.Local authorities were delegated power for land use and conservationof the community welfare. The land usage was also to be used underset rules. The Supreme Court adopted zoning’s constitutionality in1926. The consideration of the zoning law was under a landmark caseof a village of Euclid in Ohio verses the Ambler reality company. Thecourt considered zoning as an appropriate community regulation means.After the verdict, municipalities with the zoning law increased from368 to 1000 within five years.

Suburbanizationtook place after the World War II. Many people were facing severeties within the cities. Middle class and the whites continuedrestricting the minority groups from integration. Due to thesegregation, there erupted a number of jurisdictions andprotectionism practices. In 1970, there was an inexorable rise ofzoning cases in the supreme courts. The court then sided with thezoning proponents. The action halted zoning reform movements. Thezoning law was unabated and later changed the minorities’ exclusionpolicy. Under the provisions of Washington State, “Constitution, “any city, town, township, or county may enforce and make within itslimits all such sanitary, local police, and other regulations tendnot to be in conflict with general laws”.

TheWashington cities have come to adopted zoning as a common control ofland use. The initial zoning purpose was to put different types ofenterprise to various zones. The implementation was to reduce smoke,dust and noise transmissions from one to another sector. The adoptingof zoning took a marked beginning in the twentieth century. The everfirst zoning plan was adopted in the New York City in the year 1916.In the same year, eight more cities adopted the policy. Ordinanceswere used in monitoring and facilitated land use policies. Forinstance, cities restricted construction of tall buildings with aperception that they will block shorter buildings. After 1916, manycities started adopting the zoning as a model of measuring land useand control. Zoning had been adopted in more than 1300 cities by1936.

Urbantechnological transportation in the late 19th century causedimplementation of zonings before the year 1916. Manufacturers used totransport their outputs by use of horse-drawn wagons.

Themeans were very slow and expensive and hence required to be near therailroad terminal or port. However, the terminals were only near citycenter. The public transport at that time was the spoke streetcarsystem and the hub. The low-income earners lived in apartments thatwere close to the city center and along the alignment of spoke of thestreetcar system. Similarly, all commercial activities were along thesame lane. The single homeowners used to stay a few blocks from thecar routes and far away from industries, apartments, and commerce.The homeowners adored their convenient and quite residences. Theymade efforts on preventing the extension of the routes closer totheir communities. They viewed the extension as if they will disturbtheir peace.

Inthe year, 1910 intercity trucks were introduced. The introductionslead to firms moving away from the central city’s export node. Themovement was to ensure firms were closer suburban workers. Theexternalities from industrial firms were confined in the city’scentral part before introduction of intercity truck. The aim was tolocate them near the firms. The movement of firms from the centralcity led to pollution of the residential areas. The pollutionconsisted of dust, noise and other unnecessary exhaust. Zoning hadvarious reasons for its adoption3.They included separating business, commercial and industrialactivities from residential areas.

Atthe same time, the adoption of the mass transit enhanced worker`smobility. Motorized passenger bus was invented in 1920. Theinitiative allowed worker living away from the factories and furtheracquire apartments closer to the homeowners. The local governmentsintroduced residential zoning. The main role of residential zoningwas to ensure apartments are out of the homeowner`s neighborhoods.

Thecounty government and the U.S city adopted other land controlmeasures. They include limitations of pollution land use, minimizinglot-size zoning, building height restrictions and density control.The controls policy was to limit the expansion of the entire urbanarea. Local government also had other reasons for the restrictions.For example, there was to be space between houses. The main reasonwas to avoid negative externalities from one house affecting the nextone. Maximum density controls were initiated to control theoverpopulation of the city’s main areas. The limitation of buildingtaller building was to prevent the hindrance of sunlight for theshorter houses. Zoning also started rent control systems. They wereto ensure the poor got affordable housing units in the city4.

Zoningin Washington, and its cities created impacts that are more adverse.Some of the impacts were uncontrollable. According to scholars,minimum lot-size system tends to only expand the urban system.Similarly, the rich benefited more than the poor. The system wasmeant to reduce negative eternities the eternities tend to associatewith crime, fire and the traffic congestions. They are to be solelyreduced by reducing population density. Low-density zoning limitsensure that there is the presence of affordable developments thattend to be limited to the poor and the urban areas. The limitprovides that affordable housing developments to be uneconomic.

Zoninghas gone beyond its intentions borders. For instance, instead ofcontrolling land use it tends to separate people. These zoningexclusions have lead to impacts on demographic distribution patterns.According to the U.S, the national commission on problems affectingurban realized that a larger percentage of residential zoned land inthe metropolitan in New York has restricted areas for single-familydwellings.

Segregationis caused by density zoning and remains a mystery. Although, citiesattempt to control the exclusionary practices in the city, zoningalso results to rapid integrations in high-density areas thanlow-density restrictions. On the other hand, zoning also tends todemonstrate potential promotion of racial and economic integration.Suburban communities tend to have more affordable housing than thecommunities do. Public welfare is also another impact of zonal law.For instance, the municipalities do not offer fair share housingsystems. They prefer a high class than the low-class individuals.Areas with inclusionary policies tend to integrate faster than otherareas5.They depend on well-designed policy that tends to affect integrationpolicies.

Americancourts tend to have one of the best-valued property rights.Exclusionary zoning measures are currently fading. Communities gainfreedom for enacting any policies without fears of infringing theproperty rights.

Thezoning laws in the New York led to deleterious consequences that wereassociated with an increase in population density. The zonal law ledto congestions in one community. The congestion contributed to thefailure of cohesiveness in the segregated areas. Similarly, thecommunities tend to face environmental hazards due to congestion.Pollution levels rises and thus degradation of the community’sresidual resources.

Thezonal law in the D.C in the New York led to racial prejudice. Peoplesecluded themselves and tried to live on their similar classes andrace. Less fortunate groups face discrimination from gaining higherincome areas. Segregation led to the minority and the low-incomegroups locked together. The segregation has been an issue since 1960to 1990s.

Landuse laws lead to loss of people’s properties. Proposals were evenmade to compensate the property owners but failed. The cost ofstarting a business, usually, increases beyond limits forcing theless four tuned to sell their lands to developers. The law affectsdifferent landowners in various ways depending on their rate ofownership and their legal constructs. The private, corporate, andeven governmental owners face unique issues not regarding theirshared legal frameworks.

Insummary, Washington DC adopted the land use laws to manage variousissues. They included housing, land use, capital facilities,transportation, and utilities for counties. The zonal law compliedwith comprehensive development regulations. All the procedures forzoning were followed by Washington in its implementation for land usecontrols. The adoption, however, had both positive and negativeeffects. The impacts were somehow not controllable. They includedloss of properties, high revenues, racial segregation, and thedivision of ownership. The zonal law seems necessary for the city,but some issues should be addressed to change the uprising impacts itcontinues to create.6


Cunningham,Christopher R. &quotGrowth controls, real options, and landdevelopment.&quot TheReview of Economics and Statistics89, no. 2 (2007): 343-358.

Henger,Ralph, and Kilian Bizer. &quotTradable planning permits for land-usecontrol in Germany.&quot LandUse Policy27, no. 3 (2010): 843-852.

Liu,Yue, Gang-Len Chang, Ying Liu, and Xiaorong Lai. &quotCorridor-basedemergency evacuation system for Washington, DC: system developmentand case study.&quot Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board2041, no. 1 (2008): 58-67.

McNally,Michael G. &quotThe four step model.&quot Centerfor Activity Systems Analysis(2008).

Rugh,Jacob S., and Douglas S. Massey. &quotRacial segregation and theAmerican foreclosure crisis.&quot AmericanSociological Review75, no. 5 (2010): 629-651.

Qian,Zhu. &quotWithout zoning: Urban development and land use controls inHouston.&quot Cities27, no. 1 (2010): 31-41.

1 Henger, Ralph, and Kilian Bizer. &quotTradable planning permits for land-use control in Germany.&quot Land Use Policy 27, no. 3 (2010): 843-852.

2 Qian, Zhu. &quotWithout zoning: Urban development and land use controls in Houston.&quot Cities 27, no. 1 (2010): 31-41.

3 Liu, Yue, Gang-Len, Chang, Ying, Liu, and Xiaorong Lai. &quotCorridor-based emergency evacuation system for Washington, DC: system development and case study.&quot Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2041, no. 1 (2008): 58-67.

4 Rugh, Jacob S., and Douglas S. Massey. &quotRacial segregation and the American foreclosure crisis.&quot American Sociological Review 75, no. 5 (2010): 629-651.

5 McNally, Michael G. &quotThe four step model.&quot Center for Activity Systems Analysis (2008).

6 Cunningham, Christopher R. &quotGrowth controls, real options, and land development.&quot The Review of Economics and Statistics 89, no. 2 (2007): 343-358.