An Equitable Approach to Zoning Notifications

Zoning Practice — May 2024

By Jenny Baker


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In representative democracies, public notifications provide information about government activity so that citizens may make well-informed decisions. In the context of planning, state legislatures generally set the minimum requirements for local public notices, in support of open meeting laws, while allowing cities, towns, and counties to add greater detail or additional notification methods.

As long as zoning decisions are made in compliance with adopted ordinances, why bother issuing notice at all? Transparency is one concern, certainly, but due process is another: Citizens must be informed when the government is going to take action that affects them. Public notice also enables public participation, allowing citizens to state their opinions so that they may exert influence on their representatives to governing bodies. Unfortunately, as APA's Equity in Zoning Policy Guide notes, traditional notification practices for zoning decisions are inherently inequitable (§4.4.C). The good news is that planners and local officials don't have to accept the status quo.

This issue of Zoning Practice looks at increasing the equity of public notice practices by expanding upon the Equity in Zoning Policy Guide's recommendations. It examines key equitable or inequitable aspects of conventional notification practices and highlights potential new methods of notice that may enhance procedural and distributional equity.


Page Count
Date Published
May 1, 2024
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Jenny Baker
Jenny is a senior associate in Clarion’s Denver office who believes that zoning can be a positive force, used to redress historical inequities, make housing more affordable, and promote more sustainable development. She has drafted clear, concise, and award-winning zoning codes for Rochester MN and McKinney TX, and is currently working on projects in New Braunfels TX and Santa Fe NM. Jenny came to Clarion from Missoula MT, and prior to working as a planner, she spent 10 years with the American Red Cross and FEMA’s Region V, focusing on resiliency planning, and responding to over 50 disasters around the US.