2019 Introduction to US Land Use Planning and Regulations

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Urban Design and Built Environment
Course component(s)
Day/Period(Room No.)
Intensive (W9-402)  
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Language used
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Course description and aims

This course introduces the basic techniques of land use regulation as practiced in the United States today with an emphasis on regulations that support green building practices and promote sustainable development patterns. Attention is given to the history, development and incidence of a variety of land use regulations, from the general (or comprehensive) plan to advanced techniques including growth management and recent sustainable zoning practices. Of interest to the student is a focus on the practical questions of what works, what doesn’t, and why?
Students will be able to apply their learning from this course to work required in the department’s studio courses and a professional planning environment. Students will be able to recognize the inter-relationships between land use regulatory elements in use in most large jurisdictions in the US and recognize how these may be improved to encourage greater sustainable land use planning.

Student learning outcomes

To become familiar with land use regulation as practiced today across the US at the local, regional and state levels. This course also enables students to acquire knowledge of the wide variety of regulations governing land use development with an emphasis on those that support sustainability (social and environmental). By the course end, students should have developed an understanding of the planner’s role in the land use development process.


Land Use Planning, Land Use Regulations, Sustainability, United States of America

Competencies that will be developed

Intercultural skills Communication skills Specialist skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Students are required to read assigned readings, summarize these in annotated bibliographic form and come to class prepared to engage in lively conversation about the topics at hand. To assist Japanese non-native English speakers, readings for this course have been annotated in Japanese.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 The U.S. Planning Arena To understand the process, players and decision making process
Class 2 The Comprehensive Plan Introduction to the comprehensive plan - legal standing and application
Class 3 Sub-Division & Site Plan Review Regulations To understand subdivision process and initial site plan review
Class 4 State Environmental Quality Review Act (California and New York) To learn the overview of Environmental Review in the USA
Class 5 Zoning Practice – History & Overview To understand the context of zoning in the USA
Class 6 Zoning Techniques & Applications – Framework for Sustainability To learn framework for sustainable zoning techniques being practiced in the USA
Class 7 Advanced Techniques I – Zoning for Wind, Solar & Green Infrastructure To understand specific applications of zoning for solar, wind and green infrastructure
Class 8 Field Trip – Location TBD On site learning experience - Location TDB
Class 9 Advanced Techniques II – Zoning for Inclusion To learn zoning technique for affordable housing
Class 10 Planning Practicum To apply skills in a workshop experience - possibly with American students
Class 11 Planning Practicum Same as above
Class 12 Planning Practicum Same as above
Class 13 Advanced Techniques III – Regulating Aesthetics To learn regulation governing the aesthetics of the built environment
Class 14 Growth Management in the United States To understand history and application of anti-sprawl techniques in the USA
Class 15 Course Summary and Student Paper Presentations To learn from student research on course topics


Fulton, William and Paul Shigley. Guide to California Planning, 4th Ed. Point Arena, CA: Solano Press, 2013. (ISBN: 1938166027).

Reference books, course materials, etc.

NY Dept. of State. Guide to Planning and Zoning Laws of New York State: Guide to Planning and Zoning Laws of New York State (2011): http://www.dos.ny.gov/LG/publications/Guide_to_Planning_and_Zoning_Laws.pdf

Assessment criteria and methods

Your grade will depend strongly on your class participation (reading responses, in-class discussions, and participation in the joint planning practicum) and completion of the lecture assignment. To ensure lively class discussions, you are required to write a short response to the weekly reading assignments. These may be presented in Japanese or English (preferred). Assignments include a comparative analysis paper on Japanese versus U.S. existing or proposed sustainable land use/zoning ordinance. This assignment will be presented in two parts: a written document and a short presentation to the class. In addition, there will be one planning practicum in collaboration with students from Pratt Institute in New York City who will visit for a week over the course of the semester.

Related courses

  • UDE.D507 : Urban Planning and Development in Japan
  • UDE.P403 : Urban Planning
  • UDE.D473 : Contextual Urban Design

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

This course is provided in English. Recommended for students in Urban Design and Built Environment Course and Architecture Course, though not excluding those overseas students with other majors.

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