Zoning Education for Communities

Zoning Practice — December 2016

By Joseph DeAngelis, AICP


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Zoning is complicated. It's complicated for residents, elected officials, administrators, developers, and architects. It's even complicated for planners not regularly steeped in the plan review or development process. Putting aside the intricacies of zoning as a concept, local zoning itself requires specialized knowledge, fine analytical skills, and big-picture understanding. Planners must understand the zoning code, the zoning map, the local development process, and how the three relate to each other.

A Zoning 101 presentation as part of your outreach can help to educate the public, elected officials, staff, and other stakeholders on the very basics of zoning and your city's code, maps, and development process. A short presentation, meeting, or forum on zoning basics and your local code and maps can be an extraordinarily useful primer for residents, elected officials, developers, or other city staff and can servie as a bulwark against the community pushback that arises out of confusion.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how planners can use a Zoning 101 presentation to help educate community members about zoning basics. It highlights various contexts where a zoning primer may be helpful, summarizes the needs of potentially distinct audience segments, and suggests an overall structure for the presentation.


Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 1, 2016
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Joseph DeAngelis, AICP
Joseph DeAngelis, AICP is a planner and Research Manager with the American Planning Association in Chicago. Joseph's primary area of research is in the realm of climate adaptation and community resilience. He currently manages APA's slate of FEMA and NOAA sponsored research projects. Previously, he was a resiliency planner for the New York City Department of City Planning, where he worked on long-term planning and zoning solutions for communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.