Example - Heterogeneity of Zoning in Cities

Heterogeneity can also be seen in urban landscapes through the process of zoning. Zoning is the process of dividing land in a municipality into zones in which certain land uses are permitted or prohibited (Lamar, 2015). The standard categories of zoning in urban areas are residential, mixed residential-commercial, commercial, and industrial. If one considers the city and surrounding area, a few more zone categories could be included: agricultural, rural residential and national forest (see figure 3 below).

Figure 3. A county zoning map. Adapted from "Zoning Map" by jalbertbowdenii, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

While from a zoomed out perspective a city might look quite homogeneous, zoning of a city creates homogenous pockets of similar land use of the city that when combined creates a heterogeneous city-scape. At a finer scale, each zone category can have a degree of heterogeneity. In the commercial zone, there can be small retail, large retail, and office space. In the industrial zone there can be areas designated for different manufacturing types like heavy manufacturing, light assembly and warehouse uses. In the residential category, there can be areas designated for houses, houses and apartment buildings or the mix of the two. The mixed residential-commercial zone is inherently heterogeneous since it includes the mix of homes and retail. Moving to an even finer scale though and the heterogeneity can be lost. Take the mix of residential and commercial zone, if one zooms into too fine a scale, they could find that the area is only residential as the commercial areas are no longer in view at that scale.



Lamar, Anika (2015). "Zoning as Taxidermy: Neighborhood Conservation Districts and the Regulation of Aesthetics". Indiana Law Journal. (Indianapolis, Ind.: 1926) 90(4):1525-1590