Municipal mixed-use zoning is one public health strategy to create more walkable neighborhoods by reducing the separation of daily activities. This study examined 168 mixed-use zoning ordinances across 22 California cities to identify the types of daily use activities permitted, not permitted or conditionally permitted. Destinations such as entertainment, financial services, health care, offices, schools, residences, retail, recreation, business, and personal services were included. After rating each ordinance by its adherence to the APA's mixed-use zone model, the ordinance score was compared to the mixture of daily use activities found in the zones — the higher the ordinance score, the higher the potential for walking found in the zone.
Zoning laws that mix residential units with commercial and public/civic destinations have the potential to increase walkability. The study finds that significant relationships exist between the range and precision with which the zoning ordinances have been written and the mixture of walking destinations that result within the areas. The authors find that the closer city zoning ordinances adhere to the American Planning Association’s (APA) mixed-use zone model, the greater the potential for walking opportunities. The ideal mixed-use zone encourages living, working, and doing business in the same geographical area — promoting greater physical activity and improved public health.