Land-use regulations as territorial governance in U.S. metropolitan areas

Rolf Pendall, Robert Puentes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports findings of a comprehensive survey of local government land use regulations in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 2003. It demonstrates that the federal system in the United States has produced a great variety of approaches to territorial governance, ranging from "free market" deregulation in Texas, to localist land zoning and planning in most slowly growing metropolitan regions, to advanced systems of growth management and "smart growth" in coastal states. These sets of approaches, termed "families" and "orders" here, associate with widely differing outcomes in land consumption, central city-suburban disparities, and housing affordability. Rather than a direct cause-effect relationship between territorial governance systems and settlement outcomes, however, the article suggests a complex and dynamic coevolution in which land planning and regulation, infrastructure investment, the characteristics of the built and natural environments, local government structure, state and federal laws, and households' and businesses' decisions about where to locate all influence one another. Unraveling this complexity requires new approaches and comparisons both within and beyond the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-206+383-387
JournalBoletin de la Asociacion de Geografos Espanoles
Issue number46
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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