Urban Lawyer

The Connection Between Land Use and Transportation: The Oregon Experience

by Edward J. Sullivan

Edward J. Sullivan earned his B.A., St. John’s University (N.Y.), 1966; J.D., Willamette University, 1969; M.A. (History), Portland State University, 1973; Urban Studies Certificate, Portland State University, 1974; M.A. (Political Thought), University of Durham; Diploma in Law, University College, Oxford, 1984; LL.M., University College, London, 1978.

The author acknowledges the contributions of many persons who assisted in dealing with the history and details of the  Oregon transportation planning program, including Professor Sy Adler, Frank Angelo, Keith Bartholomew, Bill Blosser, Susan Brody, Robert Cortright, Brian Gregor, Bonnie Heitsch, Gabriella Lang, Michal Wert and especially Mark J. Greenfield. In addition, the author acknowledges the outstanding work of Logan Leichtman, B.B.A., James Madison University, 2007; J.D.,  Willamette University, 2015 in the research and initial drafts of this article.

I.   Introduction

In the United States it has been the practice of planners and engineers     to view the relationship of planning and transportation as unrelated, notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary.1 To some extent, these different views are reflected in the typical enabling acts by which most states have considered planning and land use regulation.

Approximately three-quarters of the states have, at one time or another, enacted the Standard State Zoning Enabling Act of 1926 (SZEA)2 which planners frequently utilize to support zoning regulations and which allows certain local governments to undertake land use regulation.3 The Standard City Planning Enabling Act (SPEA),4 which was also enacted by about half of the states, permits adoption of a plan as a guide for future development.5 It was the SPEA that dealt with certain infrastructure that, once provided, had a more permanent effect on land uses than the imposition of zoning districts on zoning maps. Thus, whereas it was typical for zone changes not to have a required basis in the plan, or for that matter for a plan to exist, the SPEA provided an expectation that a plan (again, if it existed) would be carried out in a number of ways or must specifically be overridden at the local level.

The SPEA provided for the creation of a “planning commission”6 and charged it with specific duties:

It shall be the function and duty of the commission to make and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the municipality, including any areas outside of its boundaries, which in the commission’s judgment bears relation to the planning of such municipality. Such plan, with the accompanying maps, plats, charts, and descriptive matter, shall show the commission’s recommendations for the future development of said territory, including among other things the general location, character, and extent of streets, viaducts, subways, bridges, waterways, water fronts, boulevards, parkways, playgrounds, squares, parks, aviation fields, and other public ways, grounds, and open spaces, the general location of public buildings and other public property, and the general location and extent of public utilities and terminals, whether publicly or privately owned or operated, for water, light, sanitation, transportation, communication, power, and other purposes, and the removal, relocation, widening, narrowing, vacating, abandonment, change of use or extension of any of the foregoing ways, grounds, open spaces, buildings, public utilities or terminals; as well as a zoning plan for the control of the height, area, bulk, location, occupation, and use of buildings and premises. As the work of making the whole master plan progresses, the commission may from time to time make, adopt, and publish a part or parts thereof, any such part to cover one or more major sections or divisions of the municipality or one or more of the aforesaid or other functional matters to be included in the plan. The commission may from time to time amend, extend or add to the plan.7
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