A Better Way to Zone: Ten Principles to Create More Livable Cities

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With insight and clarity, Donald L. Elliott identifies ten sound principles to foment change, produce more livable cities, and make zoning simpler to understand and use, and also proposes five practical steps to get started on the road to zoning reform.

About the Author:
Donald L. Elliott, FAICP, is an attorney and city planner with extensive experience in real estate and land use planning. He is a senior consultant in the Denver, Colorado, office of Clarion Associates

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Editorial Reviews

City Matters Bulletin

A Better Way to Zone, by Denver city planner Donald Elliott Author Don Elliott was very involved in the planning of the Gateway project in Denver. He used this experience to formulate a plan for reforming the American zoning system to make it more responsive to the needs of citizens, and to build more sustainable cities. Throughout the book, he retraces the history, legal context, and development of our current Euclidean zoning system. Zoning is clearly explained in very readable language and exposed for its misconceptions, and Elliott makes a clear case for an overhaul of our zoning laws. He lays out a five-step plan based on ten principles of reform that will transform the way towns and neighborhoods are developed throughout the country.

Denver Business Journal

Urban zoning has become too strick with too many rules--and something has got to change, according to Donald Elliott.

He's been a zoning and land-use consultant for 24 years, and works for Clarion Associates in Denver as an attorney and consultant.

In Elliott's recently published book, "A Better Way to Zone: Ten Principles to Create More Livable Cities" he outlines how he thinks the rules should change.

— Nicole Queen

The Goodspeed Update

Elliott's concise accounts of the originis and logic of most cities' "Euclidean Hybrid Zoning" would serve as a good primer on the subject for students or citizens new to the field...I think the mantra about simplicity is the most important part of the book, and completely agree with Elliott that "the more the public knows, the better they can participate at the policy- and rule-making level." Let's hope his call for simplicity and transparency is heeded."

— Rob Goodspeed

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597261807
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald L. Elliott is an attorney and city planner with extensive experience in real estate and land use planning. He is a senior consultant in the Denver, Colorado, office of Clarion Associates, a national land-use and real estate consulting firm. Elliott is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a former project director for downtown and Gateway zoning for the City and County of Denver.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction     1
A Brief History of Zoning     9
"Euclidean" Zoning     9
Standard Zoning and Planning Enabling Acts     15
Planned Unit Developments     18
Performance Zoning     23
Form-based Zoning     26
The Result: Euclidean Hybrid Zoning     34
Failed Assumptions     39
A Few General Rules Will Do It     39
Separate the Uses     41
Greenfield Standards Are Better     45
Variances Will Be Rare     48
Nonconformities Will Go Away     49
Zoning Rules Need to Be Static     55
Zoning Is a Technical Matter     58
Evolving Land Use Drivers     61
The Enormous Market     64
Tax Limits     71
Transportation Systems     74
Housing Affordability     79
NIMBYism     82
Governing Well     87
Effectiveness     89
Responsiveness     91
Fairness     93
Efficiency     97
Understandability     99
Predictable Flexibility     102
The Legal Framework forChange     105
Due Process     108
Regulatory "Takings" of Property     111
The First Amendment     114
Equal Protection     117
Vested Rights     121
Vagueness     123
Preemption by State and Federal Law     125
What Have We Learned?     129
Eight Lessons     129
Focusing on the Process of Zoning Change     133
A Better Way to Zone     137
More Flexible Uses     140
The Mixed-use Middle     146
Attainable Housing     154
Mature Areas Standards     162
Living with Nonconformities     169
Dynamic Development Standards     176
Negotiated Large Developments     183
Depoliticized Final Approvals     189
Better Webbing     196
Scheduled Maintenance     203
What About the Other Good Ideas?     207
The Way Forward     211
Audit for Specifics     213
Prioritize for Political Will     214
Draft for Integration     216
Illustrate How     217
Adopt the Possible     218
Suggested Reading List      223
Notes     225
Bibliography     231
Index     233

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