We examined recent land use conflicts between adjacent cities and counties. We documented 464 interjurisdictional land use conflicts that occurred between 1986 and 1992. The number of land use conflicts with that jurisdictions experienced in this period varied between 0 and 8. County jurisdictions were more likely to experience land use conflicts than city jurisdictions. However, this was primarily due to counties having more borders with other jurisdictions than cities.

We found that there was a band of conflicts occurring approximately 25-50 miles away from the nearest of four metropolitan centers in California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento). Around 70% of the 105 jurisdictions located within this band had at least one interjurisdictional land use conflict between 1986-92. The two maps below show this band for the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas respectively.

We believe the instigating factors associated with these conflicts are major changes in land use. At the urban periphery, 120-160 miles from the nearest metropolitan center, there are conflicts over urban expansion issues. Typically, these are between cities that want to annex land or expand development and the counties, who are responsible for managing the unincorporated areas of the counties. In the old suburbs (50-80 miles away from the nearest metropolitan center), housing intensification is occurring; cities which were once primarily single-family 'bedroom' communities are seeing increases in multi-family units as well as increases in local retail employment. In the older suburban cities and very old suburbs (25-40 miles away from the nearest metropolitan centers, there is an intensification of employment as industries locate in communities that were historically residential.

Here is a map of Map of Southern California Land Use Conflicts Southern California land use conflicts.

Here is a map of Map of Southern California Land Use Conflicts San Francisco Bay Area land use conflicts.


  • Ned Levine and Madelyn Glickfeld, Interjurisdictional Land Use Conflicts in California. In preparation. 1999.