Dynamic Zoning

Zoning Practice — October 2021

By Patrick Braga


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As American cities’ demographics continue to change, zoning and development regulations have not always kept pace. The city of the future will not be one that adheres to a pre-designed projection of future urbanism. It will be one whose rules for managing change are best equipped to respond to a variety of potential outcomes.

In the prevailing approach to zoning, adopted local laws either adhere to a singular, static vision of the future or create opportunities for local elected and appointed officials to implement standards unevenly. In contrast, dynamic zoning proposes that communities predetermine the mechanisms of zoning change based on agreed-upon indicators or decision triggers.

This issue of Zoning Practice explains the need for and fundamental characteristics of dynamic zoning. It surveys historical and contemporary precedents and summarizes three approaches communities can use to implement dynamic land-use and development regulations.


Page Count
Date Published
Oct. 1, 2021
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Patrick Braga