December 28, 2021
Zoning is the core of all land use regulation. Modern environmental management and planning policies have added layer upon layer of regulation to the type of zoning ordinance originally validated by the United States Supreme Court in Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty.1 Zoning classifications have become more complex and creative, often incorporating modern urban planning concepts and local growth and housing policies. In addition to zoning classifications, most jurisdictions now have a multiplicity of ordinances and regulations governing how and under what conditions land may be used by its owners.
From basic constitutional questions to specific statutory exemptions, the land use practitioner must be familiar with numerous issues to properly analyze a land use case. In addition to examining local zoning ordinances, the practitioner must take into account the interplay of federal, state, and regional environmental laws and regulations, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA),2 as well as local general plans3 and any applicable regional plans.4
The purpose of this chapter is to help practitioners analyze zoning issues. The chapter contains a comprehensive examination of the most common zoning and zoning-related land use controls, how they work, how they are enacted and applied, and how they might be defective or subject to challenge. “Practice Tips” are provided to bridge the gap between the statutory and case authority and everyday practice.
* Clare Bronowski is a land use attorney representing clients during all aspects of the development and entitlement process, including zoning, subdivision, and CEQA compliance. She is a partner at the Los Angeles law firm of Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro, LLP. She received a J.D. from UCLA and a B.A. from Harvard University.
** Elisa L. Paster is a land use and environmental attorney and planner assisting clients with development, planning and placemaking. She is a partner at Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro, LLP, and co-chair of the Government & Regulatory Group. She received a J.D. from the University of New Mexico Law School, a masters in planning from University College London, and a B.A. from Bryn Mawr.
***The authors would like to thank Stephanie DeHerrera and Eric Geier, associates at Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro, LLP, for their assistance in preparing the update of this chapter.