What We’re Reading: A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development

It probably won’t surprise most folks that the pursuit of more traditional (and sustainable) urban patterns is often thwarted by…  lawyers! But here’s a refreshing change: Two of them – Dan Slone and Doris Goldstein, with Andy Gowder – have just released A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development for Planners, Developers and Architects, a wellspring of practical solutions for beating them at their own game.

Put the power of lawyers to work for <em>you</em>.

Put the power of lawyers to work for you.

From planning and zoning to development and operations, this richly illustrated resource lays down the law on all aspects of smart growth and development: incorporating good urban design into local land regulations, overcoming impediments in subdivision and platting, structuring community associations for mixed-use projects, maneuvering the politics and, yes, surviving litigation.

In a solid nod of approval, it’s perhaps equally unsurprising that the book’s foreword is provided by Andres Duany, who’s spent a career running the gamut of these legal and political hurdles – some successfully, others not.

And in a not-too-shabby September 2008 review, The New Urban News says, “Immensely practical, this guidebook is loaded with techniques that can enable New Urbanism to jump hurdles erected by the legal system, the political apparatus, and the day-to-day difficulties of community life.” Finally, Law of the Land, in an October 2008 post, summarizes, “Justice Brennan: ‘If a policeman must know the Constitution, then why not a planner?’ is a perfect lead-in to a wonderful new book.”

We agree. Get your own copy here.

– Scott Doyon


  1. What a wonderful idea; all it would take is a receptive and motivated electorate, enthusiastic
    elected officials and appointed boards, planners who had not been in the same exact job for 20 years and plan reviewers and building inspectors who enforced the new regulations.
    If all it took was smart planners things would have changed thirty years ago. Because about 35-40 years after the Eisenhower interstates were built and the neighborhoods of the 50’s and 60’s were built, planners could see the trend of what was happening.
    It has now taken 30-40 years more to actually start turning talk into action. And, yet where’s the action? I see brown fields aplenty and many people still don’t know what grey fields are or what to do with them – look around they are everywhere.

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