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Physical Futures and Energy Zonling in Los Angeles


Zoning and land use exert a fundamental influence on the production, consumption and delivery of energy in Los Angeles. As the primary civic tool of urban design and development, zoning determines urban form, density, and land use allowability, with far reaching consequences for energy demand, supply and infrastructure, commute length and transportation infrastructure, industrial siting, and energy culture at large.  In Los Angeles, zoning also serves a primary regulatory role in petroleum extraction, which though highly problematic in practice, sets a powerful precedent regarding the legal reach of the code to prescriptively and extensively regulate energy-related industrial land uses.  


While recent state and local policy has sought to integrate land use and sustainability practices, the full extent of land use policy’s influence on urban energy systems and its potential as a tool for urban energy reform as an extension of the police power in the service of the general welfare has not been recognized.


With support from the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge (SLA GC), this study seeks to clarify the historic extent of zoning’s influence on the development and maintenance of urban energy systems and cultures in Los Angeles, and to locate new areas of opportunity for its positive application in pursuit of systemic energy change toward a renewable, sustainable energy future.

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