City Zoning Requirements Should Be Transparent, Manville Writes

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville wrote a Planetizen article about the nuances of city zoning requirements and the consequences for planning and development. Los Angeles has strict rules for land development and zoning, but they are often used as negotiating leverage. Developers are able to bargain with the city over parking and building height requirements by offering to contribute subsidized housing and building green spaces. “A zoning bylaw that contains onerous and unnecessary regulations might be good for bargaining, but it isn’t a good zoning bylaw,” Manville wrote. “Selectively enforcing rules can give officials more power to accomplish short-term goals, but it risks a long-term consequence of eroding faith in the rules themselves.” Furthermore, selective zoning can lead to corruption when rules are not universally enforced. Manville concluded that zoning should be transparent and that “our goal should be good policies that yield good outcomes.”

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