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Zoning and Changing Lifestyles

Read an excerpt from this article below. You can download the full article by using the link at the end of the excerpt.

... Ozzie and Harriet Arrive

A central goal of zoning from its inception has been the provision of healthy surroundings for family life. After World War II, Americans made a headlong rush to the suburbs in pursuit of what might be called the "Ozzie and Harriett" way of life. To deliver on this lifestyle, it became common practice for zoning ordinances not just to separate residential from commercial and industrial uses, but to differentiate residential uses by family classification.

The term "neighborhood," in many localities, became synonymous with single-family homes. Zoning codes often sought to guarantee this by limiting the number of unrelated persons who could live together as a family in residential neighborhoods (at least in the predominant low-density residential neighborhoods).

The U.S. Supreme Court sanctioned such restrictions in itsVillage of Belle Terre ruling. As the Court noted, "a quiet place where yards are wide, people few and motor vehicles restricted are legitimate guidelines in a land-use project concerned with family needs."

Changing Lifestyles

As the 1950s and '60s have receded, the lifestyles characterized by Ozzie and Harriett Nelson, Ward and June Cleaver, and other icons of our popular culture have also changed. Indeed, the change process has become a dominant and prevailing theme of modern life. In some ways, zoning has had to scramble to keep up.

We know that technology, values, and lifestyles will continue to evolve whether we like it or not, and the resulting changes will impact our culture and our communities. As community planners, we should constantly monitor changing lifestyles and consider the way in which our planning tools need to be adjusted to accommodate those changes. Zoning, like all institutions, must be flexible enough to respond to changes and accommodate altered lifestyles, even while continuing to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

While there are many examples of how change has had a dramatic impact on our lifestyles, let's take a look at four particular areas:

1. Working from Home

Times have changed. Office work no longer necessarily involves leaving one's home and traveling to a place of employment. In the 1980s, the number of people who worked at home increased by over 50 percent – and the pace has not slowed down. Technological improvements, particularly involving the Internet, now allow for even more work to be conducted at home, with reports, graphics, sound, and video able to be transmitted with relative ease to any number of geographic locations. More and more people can – and are – conducting business from their home.

End of excerpt

- The first half of the article continues with a discussion of our:

  • Aging Population
  • Changing Economy
  • Automobile Dependency

- The second half of the article takes a look at the following zoning issues related to the lifestyle & demographic changes previously discussed:

  • Home Occupations
  • Senior Housing and Accessory Apartments
  • "McMansions"
  • Mixed Uses and Density

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