It is easy to object to particular applications of the zoning principle. Building restrictions of necessity must be arbitrary. Boundaries of districts must be actual lines, and in establishing lines where conditions grade almost insensibly one into another, it is difficult to avoid individual injustices. It is often difficult to show that zoning prevents injury to the health of certain particular individuals. There are various matters for adjustment and administration which should be provided for, as well as may be, in zoning laws. Although zoning as a principle has abundant justification under the police power, it must not be forgotten that since Magna Charta, the individual has had protection against undue restrictions of government in what is known as "due process of law."
The relation between zoning and health is a mass relation. It is the health of the community, the collective health of many people, that is at stake. Families rightly separate working quarters from sleeping quarters; cooking and eating and sleeping in the same room is regarded as insanitary. Tenement-house laws, factory regulations, building codes, and the like safeguard the internal uses of the buildings. The zoning law does for a city what some of these laws do for the factories, school houses, and dwellings.
When cities grow without plan, their constituent districts tend to change in character. Single houses give way to apartment houses; residential districts are insidiously invaded by business and manufacturing; and old buildings are converted to uses for which they were not intended and for which they are ill adapted. Converted houses are notoriously likely to be insanitary and unhealthful. In a growing city there is a natural tendency toward concentration for economic reasons. A person who erects an apartment house in a region where only single dwellings exist is capitalizing for his own pocketbook light, air, and the other residential benefits at the expense of his neighbors. A single-house region once infected with an apartment house tends to accumulate other apartments, and the neighborhood tends to change from a stable, house-owning population to a shifting, renting class - a class lacking in neighborliness and civic pride and leading an impoverished family life. Thanks to sanitation and other modern improvements, apartment-house life has been made healhful for adult existence, but the compressed and repressed life of a modern city apartment is not conducive to growth or to a life that is full and rich. Segregation of apartment houses is justified as a measure for protecting community health.
Gradually it is dawning on men's minds that cities which grow to great size do so at the expense of the health and comfort of their own citizens; that rapid growth which outruns municipal ability to make or remake necessary thoroughfares and provide needed public utilities leads to ugly confusion, whereas a slower, well-ordered growth is more likely to lead to civic beauty and a better civilization. The United States is entering on a period of lower population increase. As pride in growth and quantity production lessens, as it must, the elements of stability and self-control and beauty need to be strengthened.
Zoning should be regarded as a sort of collective self-control, a means by which a city controls its own life and growth for the best good of all its citizens. It is an act of police power fully justified in the interest of morals, safety, and health.
Good city planning aims to bring about order in the physical development of a city, town, or village. In good planning public and private developments are in harmony with the plan. Poor planning usually results from piecemeal planning when the layout of a new subdivision or location of public buildings and so on, are regarded as separate problems. A city plan provides for streets and transportation, business and shopping centers, industrial districts, public buildings, parks, playgrounds, and residential areas. A city plan should include a zoning ordinance. The plan is given effect by both the city government and its citizens, and usually a city-planning commission is set up. Effective city planning can do much to make one-family houses available to more families by encouraging a better distribution of centers of employment and a well-coordinated street system which provides for available areas for dwellings. The city plan makes possible easy access to neighborhood stores, schools, and recreation centers.
After the plan has been formulated it should be kept up to date, as its execution is never completed while the city is growing or rebuilding. A separately organized city-planning commission usually is the desired agency for preparing the plan and in assuming the responsibility for carrying it out. Ill effects on housing by poor planning are: (a) lack of forethought in layout of streets often affecting housing through needless high costs of land brought about by too great an amount of paving and installation of utilities; (b) failure to orient streets to provide maximum of direct sunlight for dwellings; (c) back yards too small for efficient use;
(d) more corner lots than necessary in residential districts involving street noises, traffic dangers, and dust.
City planning affects housing through those multi-family dwellings which occupy a large percentage of the land; through progress of building and industry. Too much space is often allotted to manufacture and trade which sometimes results in blighted districts. City planning should concern housing in the clearance of slum areas. City planning affects housing in laws and practices relating to real estate, eminent domain, taxation, and assessment.
More efficient government machinery and community organization is needed in carrying out city planning. A solution of the problem is needed of acquiring land and financing the improvements in order that those benefiting by the improvement will pay in proportion to the benefits received.
A large number of states have enacted legislation that authorizes planning in cities, towns, boroughs, counties, and regions. This is of two kinds: (1) enabling acts that authorize planning in all cities, or cities of a certain class, towns, boroughs, villages, counties, or regions of the state; (2) special acts that affect only certain named cities and areas. Planning commissions have been established in certain cities under these general and special laws. In other states commissions have been established by municipal charter amendments under home-rule provisions of state constitutions or laws. In still other cases commissions have been appointed without specific authorization by the state. A Standard City Planning Enabling Act - a model from which states may frame and develop planning legislation - has been prepared by the United States Department of Commerce.
Provision must be made in the regional plan for industrial, commercial, and residential areas. The metropolitan region of the future should be planned to contain a number of distinct urban communities which will be enabled to preserve their individuality through surrounding open areas. Each urban unit in the regional plan should be easily accessible to the others. Home and work should be brought closer together through intelligent regional planning, and more space should be available which will improve the character of dwellings.
For the population that is to be housed in a carefully planned region there are one-family houses, two-family houses, and multi-family houses, boarding and rooming houses. With this classification of houses, with a regional plan, zoning regulation, and an intelligent distribution of the centers of employment so that there will be ready access from home to shop, with a stabilization of the character of neighborhoods, a recognition of the value of space inside and outside the house, it will be comparatively easy to develop a housing policy to serve adequately the needs of the population. The regional plan will guide the development of traffic facilities, types of dwellings will be placed in accordance with their needs of these facilities, and zoning regulations will prevent the placing of an inferior type in a district where it does not belong.
A slum is a dwelling, or group of dwellings, or a whole district which is injurious to health, morals or family life. Slums may be due to (1) faulty layout - too narrow streets or too large blocks, inviting courts, alleys, and rear tenements; (2) bad structural plans of dwellings themselves, where they cover too much of the lot and have dark or dimly lighted rooms; (3) disrepair; (4) the tenant. Slum evils may include overcrowding and un-cleanliness. Health and housing authorities are responsible for cleanliness and certain repair work. The city planner is concerned with faulty layout or faulty structural plans in respect to light and air.
Slum clearance is the acquisition by city or by authorities of slum areas declared injurious to public health or morals followed by demolition and a new layout of streets and open spaces.
Zoning has been defined as the application of common sense and fairness to the public regulations governing the use of private real estate. Zoning regulations vary in different districts according to the uses of the land for residence, business, or manufacturing. Zoning is an important part of city planning and should be developed with it. A blighted district is a district originally developed for residence or industry in which people have lost confidence. The most familiar is the residential district in which stores and factories have begun to be erected - thus reducing residential property values. Zoning prevents waste by preventing these blighted districts.
A general state enabling act passed by the state legislature is desirable as home-rule powers may not cover all necessary provisions for successful zoning. A city-planning commission, if there is one, is the logical body to initiate zoning work. A zoning ordinance consists of one or more maps dividing the city into different kinds of districts with regulations for each district, and adequate provisions for enforcement.
Municipal control over the use of private property is dependent upon the exercise of the police power. It is the purpose of zoning as it is that of sanitation to secure and maintain an environment in which normal beings can lead normally healthy lives. Placing restriction on heights and bulks of buildings is public control of space outside of buildings. Indoor use of property also affects outdoor conditions. One of the primary purposes of zoning is to safeguard the conditions which affect three primary phases of life which in turn affect health: (1) work, (2) recreation, and (3) sleep. The objects of zoning are (1) to protect the basic phases of life against injury by providing adequate place separation of residences, business, and industry; (2) to prevent private monopoly of natural light and air necessary to health by restricting the height and bulk of buildings in ways appropriate in their neighborhoods. The relation between zoning and health is a mass relation - the health of the community.
Adams, Thomas; Bassett, Edward; and Written, Robert. Regional Survey of New York and its Environs, Vol. VII: Problems of Planning Unbuilt Areas. New York: Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs, 1929.
Bassett, Edward M. "Control of Building Heights, Densities and Uses by Zoning," Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs, Vol. VI: Buildings, Their Uses and the Spaces about Them. New York: Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs, 1931. Pp. 352-99.
Cheney, Charles H. Building for Permanence: The Esthetic Considerations in a Master or City Plan. New York: National Conference on City Planning, 1928. Pp. 16.
Delano, Frederic A., and Others. City-planning Procedure. 3d ser., No. 1. Washington: American Civic Association, 1928. Pp. 31.
Ford, George B. The Newer City Planning. 3d ser., No. 3. Washington: American Civic Association, 1928. Pp. 24.
Hubbard, Theodora Kimball, and Hubbard, Henry Vincent. Our Cities To-day and To-morrow: A Survey of Planning and Zoning Progress in the United States. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929.
Hubbard, Theodora Kimball, and McNamara, Katherine (comps.). Planning Information Up-to-Date. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928. References on regional, rural, and national planning.
James, Harlean. Land Planning in the United States for the City, State and Nation. New York: Macmillan Co., 1926. ______ (ed.). American Civic Annual, Vol. I. Washington: American Civic Association, 1929. ______Ibid., Vol. II. Washington: American Civic Association, 1930.
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"Slum Clearance," by Lawrence Veiller (pp. 71-84); "Slum Improvement by Private Effort," by Harold S. Buttenheim (pp. 85-95); "Slum Improvement by Reconditioning," by Maxwell Hyde (pp. 96-102).
______Recent Books and Reports on Housing, Zoning and Town Planning.
Pub. 62. New York: The Association, 1930. Pp. 34
National Municipal Review (monthly). New York (261 Broadway): National Municipal League.
Nolen, John (ed.). City Planning. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1929.
Perry, Clarence Arthur, and Others. Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs, Vol. VII: Neighborhood and Community Planning. New York: Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs, 1929.
U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Advisory Committee on City Planning and Zoning. A Standard City Planning Enabling Act. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1928. Pp. 54.
______Advisory Committee on Zoning. A City Planning Primer. BH. 10.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1928. Pp. 18.
---------. A Standard State Zoning Enabling Act. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1926. Pp. 13.
---------. A Zoning Primer. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1926.