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Reinventing Development Regulations

Jonathan Barnett and Brian W. Blaesser

October 2017, English

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy


Many writers have identified the deficiencies in traditional zoning and regulatory frameworks in the United States, but Jonathan Barnett and Brian Blasser offer solutions that tweak and bend existing practices—let's call it 'context-sensitive policy'—to achieve better outcomes. The authors demonstrate that incorporating environmental considerations, changing scales of reference, and challenging planning dogma may be all we need to start building better communities.”

Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association

In this practical guide, two well-known experts argue that municipal leaders can dramatically improve the quality of life in their communities by adjusting local land use regulations. Development regulations determine the form of our cities, suburbs, and towns, but current regulations have structural deficiencies and biases that must be corrected for communities to meet 21st century land use challenges. Barnett, one of the pioneers of the modern practice of city design, and Blaesser, a land use and real estate lawyer, lay out strategies to preserve the natural environment, create desirable civic spaces, conserve historic buildings, reduce housing inequality, ease the pressures of urban sprawl, and deal with floods, erosion, and wildfire. The authors recommend improving six critical areas of zoning and subdivision regulations.

  • Relate development to the natural environment.
  • Manage climate change locally.
  • Encourage walking by mixing land uses and housing types.
  • Preserve historic landmarks and districts.
  • Create more affordable housing and promote environmental justice.
  • Establish design principles and standards for public spaces and buildings.
  • Implement regulations while safeguarding private property interests.

About the Authors

Jonathan Barnett served as director of the graduate urban design program at the University of Pennsylvania and at the City College of New York.

Brian W. Blaesser is a partner in the law firm Robinson & Cole LLP, and heads its Land Use and Real Estate Development Group.


Reviews

Rarely has such a comprehensive and readable book been written about how we regulate development in the United States. Technically and legally rigorous, this book examines how we invest society's wealth in where we live, work, and build.”

Christopher B. Leinberger, Professor and Consultant, George Washington University School of Business and Brookings Institution

The authors offer an holistic view of development regulations that moves beyond the typical site-specific application to a broader context that incorporates the natural and historical environmetns, climate change, and other influences currently given little or no attention.”

James D. Chrisman, Senior Vice President, Forest City Stapleton


Keywords

Climate Mitigation, Development, Environment, Environmental Planning, Housing, Inequality, Infrastructure, Land Use, Poverty, Regulatory Regimes, Sustainable Development, Urban Sprawl, Zoning