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Courses : Syllabi : 572

Geography 572 Land Use Analysis


Diana Gauss Richardson

Course Description

Land Use Analysis provides a comprehensive theoretical and practical approach to the examination of how we use land and plan for land uses in the United States.  The land ethic and its changes over time since European settlement to the modern day, the processes involved in land use decisions, and the mechanics involved in effecting these decisions are all discussed.  We are particularly concerned with examining how to plan land uses that are healthy for communities, are environmentally sound, and that provide positive benefits to the economy and society.  As stated in the catalog, this course reviews: Problems of maintaining environmental quality in the process of land conversion from rural to urban uses with emphasis on land capability and suitability studies. Thus, competing uses of land, including non-use, and the environmental and social effects of use are reviewed, along with urban renewal, and specific policies and regulations that are required in land use decisions at the local, state and federal levels of government.  Valuable tools for land use analysis and planning are taught, including, among others, General Plans, the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  Current sustainability concepts, such as “green design”, “smart growth”, and the tools to achieve these, are given throughout the course. 

Course format is lecture-based, and supported by text, reference readings, articles, guest lectures and field trips.  A half-day seminar is highly encouraged; – this seminar is a beginning course in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  (A $30.00 fee for this class is charged by the College of Extended Studies; see me if this is a problem).  A brief (2 page) summary paper of this event is required and is worth 40 points. If you cannot attend the seminar, you can prepare an alternate paper (5-6 pages) summarizing research on this topic, and addressing specific questions.

Students are expected to demonstrate knowledge gained in the following areas by their performance in the responses to the readings, the term project, the quizzes, and class participation.  Major topics that students should demonstrate knowledge in:  1) changes in land development perceptions over time in the U.S., 2) various mechanisms of planning and analysis as described throughout the course, 3) examples of land uses at all levels of government, 4) critically think through a development scenario, 5)think critically about healthy and sustainable urban design, and 6) be aware of the planning/political process in land use decisions.  


Course grade based on total score at the end of semester. Your grade in this course will be based on the following elements:

Term Project: Factors involved in land use analysis and planning will be reviewed throughout the semester. You will be given a project site, and will evaluate its suitability for development/redevelopment. The following outline details the required product and due date. The term project is worth 150 points altogether. Any late assignments are worth half credit. We will visit the project site in Sept.Location is in National City, and detailed directions will be posted on Blackboard.  (Waiver forms must be signed in order to attend this field trip.)

For the project site, we will examine the history, important policies, regulations and other information that affect the site. These will include the General Plan land use designation, the site opportunities and constraints (the physical setting), environmental issues (CEQA, NEPA), neighborhood dynamics and needs, mass/public transit opportunities, ability to develop with Green/sustainable design principles that you want to incorporate into your plan, and any other relevant information.  We will visit the site together as a class, and discuss many of these topics.  We’ll note surrounding land uses.  Photographs of the site will help in your analysis; bring your camera if you have one.  Your final product will be 1) a land use analysis and 2) plan for this site. 

You will receive an individual grade (30 pts. possible), and a group grade (40 pts. possible).  Each person in the group will be responsible for a particular component of the plan, and the end product will be a team effort.  We will work on a schedule for various tasks completion during class. Group presentations of projects will occur in the last two class sessions.  Format should be professional: nice dress, group dynamics worked out so that each person plays a role, and power point slides to demonstrate topics. 

Text Reviews and Discussion: Each of the two texts will be reviewed by answering questions pertaining to the chapters; these will be due in class following the readings, and a schedule of the due dates is shown on the Course Schedule.  Class discussions on the texts will be part of your participation points.  The text responses will be worth a total of 100 points.

Quizzes: 3 Quizzes will include material from lecture and will be worth approximately 40 – 50 points each. 

Attendance: Attendance will be taken randomly during the semester, and is worth 20 points altogether.    Student may be excused from class with no point penalty if arranged with me; contact me before class to arrange excused absence.  

Grade Breakdown:

Books and Materials

Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities, Design Strategies for the Post-Carbon World, by Patrick M. Condon, 2010
The Nature Principle, by Richard Louv, 2011
Articles: on Blackboard.

Weekly Topics

Week Topic
Week One Introduction
Land Uses in the U.S.
Historical perspective on land use
Week Two General Plan (GP)
Week Three General Plan conitnued
Government Agencies that are involved in land use planning
Week Four Regional Planning
Special Districts
Week Five “Sustainable” Development
“Green” Design
“Smart” Growth
Quiz 1
Week Six California Evnironmental Quality Act
Week Seven Finish CEQA
Week Eight Site Description
Week Nine Case Studies
Week Ten Quiz 2
Week Eleven Federal Requirements
National Enviromental Policy Act
Endangered Species Act
Clean Water Act
Week Twelve Federal Agencies (NPS, USFWS, USFS, BLM)
Week Thirteen Wilderness
Case Stuies
Week Fourteen Class Presentations
Week Fifteen Class Presentations continued
Quiz 3

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