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11 Examples of Zoning

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Zoning is the regulation of land use by area. It is a primary tool of urban planning that is based on national law, regional regulations or local ordinances. The following are common examples of zoning.


Zoning often regulates activities such as residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial use of land. This tends to raise the value of property as people don't want to live beside a site that is unattractive, noisy or generating pollution.


Historically, North American cities tend to have large single-use zones. This is often criticized as negatively impacting quality of life due to factors such as long commutes and large areas with little sense of community.


Mixed-use zoning can be used to simulate reasonably dense neighborhoods where people can walk to shopping, work, school, medical appointments, restaurants, green space and other useful features.

Night Economy

Many zoning laws exclude things like bars, night clubs, performance venues and karaoke. In some cases, mixed-use zoning embraces these features of the night economy as part of a strategy of fostering lively neighborhoods.


Zoning may restrict boarding houses, hotels, motels and other temporary rentals. In many cases, reputable hotels can obtain an exception to zoning laws.

Sui Generis

Sui generis is a term for land uses that don't fit into a standard category. The term is applied to things such as embassies, amusement parks, scrapyards, garbage facilities and power stations. Such sites may require special approval in all zones.


Structural restrictions such as the size and height of buildings. For example, a neighborhood might permit shopping but not big-box stores. Height is also commonly restricted. This may allow a neighborhood to reach a reasonable density without overusing the area's infrastructure and greenspace.


Safety related regulations such as the distance between buildings designed to reduce fire hazards.

Inclusionary Zoning

A requirement that a percentage of land in an area be used for affordable housing. This is done to create a income-integrated community.


Zoning may cover a wide range of environmental issues. For example, as opposed to excluding all industry mixed-use zoning might define a list of acceptable environmental practices that allows for light-industry.

Air Rights

How much of the air above a property is for the exclusive use of the owner.
Overview: Zoning
The regulation of land use by area.
In some cases, zoning is based on a system of planning such as a 10-year plan that is developed in consultation with communities. Such plans are complex to develop and implement but may be viewed positively as communities can plan their own neighborhoods.
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