Equitable Zoning for Home Occupations

Zoning Practice — September 2023

By Jerry Adams, Kurt Schindler, FAICP, John Wallace, Mark Wyckoff, FAICP, David Morley, AICP


ZP subscriber
List price
Sign In & Download

Not a member but want to buy a copy? You'll need to create a free My APA account to purchase. Create account

A home enterprise is any revenue-generating activity conducted on the premises of a residential dwelling unit. This includes such disparate activities as joining a work-related Zoom or Teams meeting, selling fast-fashion leggings, creating driftwood furniture, cutting and styling hair, hosting short-term renters, and even mining cryptocurrency. Nearly all contemporary zoning codes regulate home enterprises either implicitly, by clearly listing the permissible primary and accessory uses of residentially zoned properties, or explicitly, by defining and regulating different enterprises or types of enterprises as distinct uses.

Generally, though, explicit zoning provisions targeting home enterprises focus primarily on home occupations, defined most broadly as any business operated (or paid work performed) by a resident as an accessory use to a dwelling unit. Perhaps the most common subset of home occupations is remote work or telework, which encompasses any wage- or salary-based labor tied to the use of personal information and communications devices from a location other than a centralized workplace. As of June 2023, more than 40 percent of all full-time wage and salary workers in the U.S. were either fully remote or working a hybrid schedule.

This issue of Zoning Practice explores how zoning regulations can remove unintentional and inequitable barriers to working from home. It briefly examines the reasons why zoning reform is necessary before providing recommendations to help planners draft updated standards that better reflect existing conditions and advance equity in zoning.


Page Count
Date Published
Sept. 1, 2023
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Jerry Adams

Kurt Schindler, FAICP
Kurt H. Schindler, AICP, is a Distinguished Senior Educator Emeritus. He retired from Michigan State University Extension. Now Schindler is the principal of Northwest Rural Planning LLC providing assistance to communities without or with nominal cost. At MSU he specialized in government and public policy with a focus on land use, local government, regional role in the new or global economy, community development, and water quality aspects of development. With Extension Schindler has had a major role in development of the Michigan Citizen Planner training program. Schindler has been a practicing planner in Michigan for over 34 years. He has served as board member and president of the Michigan Association of Planning (MAP) (formerly Michigan Society of Planning Officials), the state’s premiere professional planning organization.

John Wallace

Mark Wyckoff, FAICP
<p>Mark Wyckoff retired in February 2018 as a professor at Michigan State University where he served as Interim Director of the Land Policy Institute and Director of the Planning &amp; Zoning Center. He was a community planner with 43 years of experience (including 24 years running a private sector consulting business) and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He created, edited and published the Michigan-specific monthly magazine, Planning &amp; Zoning News, from November 1982 until the last issue in February 2022. Mark is interested in regional economic development, place and placemaking, land use law, sign regulation, environmental and natural resource protection, legacy cities, intergovernmental service delivery and consolidation, the transportation and land use connection, and the nexus between environmental protection and economic development. He conducted an average of nearly one training program a week for 35 years to large and small audiences on these and other topics. He helped the Michigan legislature consolidate laws related to local planning and zoning and advised on many draft state policies and legislation. Mr. Wyckoff is the author or co-author of nearly two dozen best practices guidebooks and training programs for local government officials and various stakeholder groups, and has published in journals of law, planning and real estate.</p>

David Morley, AICP
David Morley, AICP, is a Research Program and QA Manager at the American Planning Association in Chicago, where he manages and contributes to sponsored research projects; manages the development of the Research KnowledgeBase; develops, organizes, and participates in educational sessions and workshops; and writes for APA publications. Mr. Morley also edits Zoning Practice.