Senator Jackson had a vision for the future but what he saw was not an idealized end state; it was a process. He envisioned a national land use system where various levels of government - federal, state and local - acted in a mutually beneficial and coordinated manner, to create land use patterns that foster development, where desired, and conservation, where appropriate. The federal government would enable the states to develop these land patterns by providing financial and technical assistance.
In the early 1970s, the United States failed to seize Senator Jackson's vision for comprehensive land use planning. The past twenty years have proven the folly of that decision. Instead, today, this nation is faced with a series of single subject environmental regulations that are cumulative, economically prohibitive, at times contradictory and worst of all, ineffective at preserving the environment. Business and industry suffer from the expense of these inefficient and often ineffective environmental regulations.2 The legal system further discourages development and raises costs. In the last twenty years, sprawling development patterns have continued unabated, further depleting open space and degrading the quality of the earth's natural resources. Additionally, the persistence of social concerns such as environmental justice, lack of affordable housing and urban blight are indicators that, despite many valiant efforts and programs, any attempt to deal with these issues in an isolated fashion is futile, for they are inextricably connected with the overall development of the land.
Land use planning is a tool that can be used to effectively promote social, environmental and economic goals. It is well recognized today that this country's diversity prohibits the creation of
(John A. Cushman, Proposed Changes Simplify Rules on Pollution Control, New York Times, March 17, 1995, at 20.