Law; Land Use; Public Participation in zoning


There are more opportunities for public participation in the planning and zoning process today than there were in the decades immediately after states adopted the first zoning enabling acts. As a result, today, public participation, dominated by nearby residents, drives most land use planning and zoning decisions. Enhanced public participation rights are often seen as an unqualified good, but there is a long history of public participation and community control cementing racial segregation, entrenching exclusion, and preventing the development of affordable housing in cities and suburbs alike. Integrating community engagement into an effective administrative process requires addressing the various ways in which existing public participation processes have failed to serve their purported goals. This Article critically examines how public participation operates in land use planning and approvals. It then proposes a new model, drawing lessons from other administrative processes, in an effort to balance public input, legal standards, and expertise.

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