Legalizing smart growth: An empirical study of land use regulation in Illinois

Emily Talen, Knaap Gerrit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


There is widespread agreement that metropolitan growth should be channeled into compact, walkable developments. New growth should include diverse housing types and mixed land uses and support pedestrian access and public transit. This article investigates how local government regulation has responded to this trend. Local development regulation is empirically examined by analyzing how much "smart growth" policies are implemented at the local level and investigating how much regulatory cultures prevent compact, pedestrian-oriented development. A typology of the kinds of local regulation used to promote smart growth is first established. Interregulatory consistency is also investigated - to what degree are cities and counties adopting frameworks consistent with smart growth? The types of developments implemented by local zoning regulations are then quantified. Results from a large-scale sample show that local jurisdictions in Illinois employ relatively low levels of smart growth-related prescriptive policies, and regulations generally run counter to smart growth development ideals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-359
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Planning Education and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Land use regulation
  • Smart growth
  • Zoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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