Browse Proptionary encyclopedia

Build your real estate vocabulary to be able to communicate and invest more effectively and professionally.

Exclusionary Zoning


Zoning law that precludes certain land uses in a targeted geographical market.


Exclusionary zoning restricts specific land use in a certain area of the city. The purpose is to divide land by only allowing certain types of properties in an area.

Exclusionary zoning prevents certain types of developments from being built in a given area. This subsequently affects the type of structures that can be built. When the United States started developing as a country, cities and states-imposed limitations on specific structures so that they could incentivize certain areas to be developed for specific purposes. This helped divide certain portions of a given area for certain types of structures.

The government understood that it was ion the best interest of the country for specific areas to have only certain types of developments prevalent. For example, they learned that it did not make sense to have residential real estate in the middle of retail stores. To prevent residential development in a retail area, the government used exclusionary zoning as a land use regulation to promote and prevent certain structures from being built. This greatly helped divide the city by land use.

Opponents and Proponents of Exclusionary Zoning

Exclusionary zoning initially was the subject of much debate. There were many opponents who believed that regulating land use was a violation of landowner’s land rights and therefore was a violation of individual rights. Because the United States was created with the idea of individual rights in minds, there were many people who were against exclusionary zoning. The government was taken to court on many occasions in resistance by landowner’s who believed their rights were being violated. Ultimately the government prevailed, and they claimed the right to regulate land use.

History of Exclusionary Zoning

The early 1900’s marked a period of significant urbanization that drastically affected the make up of the country. While urbanization was taking place, there was a massive influx of immigrants coming into the country. Many of the initial exclusionary zoning measures were instituted with the idea of keeping certain groups of immigrants away from central areas in the name of land use. Ultimately, many of those old unfair exclusionary zoning measures were outlawed, however exclusionary zoning remained.

While the country was growing, so too was the need for exclusionary zoning in almost all aspects of our lives. Land use in the early 1900’s was now beginning to take form by dividing property uses based on industrial use, residential use, commercial use, and others. In 1922, the government passed the Standard State Zoning Enabling Act of 1922 which designated land use power to local authorities. This gave local bodies of government the right to divide land use based on the specific needs of their city.

The State Zoning Enabling Act drastically helped the government make better decisions for the city in which they were serving. After the passage of the 1922 State Zoning Enabling Act, many landowners became opposed to these measures. In 1926 the Supreme Court tried a paramount case that affected future rulings. The case, Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co, the Supreme Court held that zoning is a valid regulation use and therefore after this holding land use regulations increased significantly. Within five short years land use regulations nearly tripled.

Purpose of Land Use

The purpose of land use regulations is to maximize the property value of a given and make certain industries at the forefront of a given area. For example, a given area’s property values will rise substantially higher if there are businesses in a specific area, rather than having mixed use buildings with residential. The inverse would be true. Property values would be reduced if there were commercial buildings in a residential area.

Land use zoning laws also ensure that there is uniformity to a given area. This increases the appeal and desirability of the area. When desirability  is increased, new buyers move into the area and develop more properties, thereby increasing property values further.

Sign Up

Start expanding your real estate knowledge

Already have an account?
By signing up to create an account I accept Proptionary’s

Join Us

Get ahead by signing up for the latest real estate, investment and financial articles.