A Better Way to Zone: Ten Principles to Create More Livable Cities / Edition 2

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Overview


Nearly all large American cities rely on zoning to regulate land use. According to Donald L. Elliott, however, zoning often discourages the very development that bigger cities need and want. In fact, Elliott thinks that zoning has become so complex that it is often dysfunctional and in desperate need of an overhaul. A Better Way to Zone explains precisely what has gone wrong and how it can be fixed.
 
A Better Way to Zone explores the constitutional and legal framework of zoning, its evolution over the course of the twentieth century, the reasons behind major reform efforts of the past, and the adverse impacts of most current city zoning systems. To unravel what has gone wrong, Elliott identifies several assumptions behind early zoning that no longer hold true, four new land use drivers that have emerged since zoning began, and basic elements of good urban governance that are violated by prevailing forms of zoning. With insight and clarity, Elliott then identifies ten sound principles for change that would avoid these mistakes, produce more livable cities, and make zoning simpler to understand and use. He also proposes five practical steps to get started on the road to zoning reform.
 
While recent discussion of zoning has focused on how cities should look, A Better Way to Zone does not follow that trend. Although New Urbanist tools, form-based zoning, and the SmartCode are making headlines both within and outside the planning profession, Elliott believes that each has limitations as a general approach to big city zoning. While all three trends include innovations that the profession badly needs, they are sometimes misapplied to situations where they do not work well. In contrast, A Better Way to Zone provides a vision of the future of zoning that is not tied to a particular picture of how cities should look, but is instead based on how cities should operate.
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Editorial Reviews

City Matters Bulletin

"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 strict 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."
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

Frank Gray, Planning Director, City of Scottsdale - Frank Gray

"Sometimes you find a book that you wish you could give to everyone you work with. A Better Way to Zone is such a book. It is a must-read for every professional planner, planning student, planning commissioner and city councilperson. This book clearly explains how we got to where we are today and provides a roadmap to the future of land use regulation. Mr. Elliot brings together his broad knowledge of planning law and an international perspective to provide us with a unique insight to our future."
Denver Business Journal - Nicole Queen
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.

Goodspeed Update - Rob Goodspeed

"Elliott's concise accounts of the origins 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."
Professor of law, University of Denver - Edward H. Ziegler

"A Better Way to Zone just may be the best book on planning and zoning since The Zoning Game was published in 1966. Elliott's analysis of the politics, economics, law, techniques, and process of land development and zoning in America today is informed by his nationally distinguished career as a planner and attorney in the trenches of modern zoning. The book's final chapters should be required reading for anyone who believes that zoning should actually be about the 'general welfare.' A highly readable, informative, and insightful book—it is a remarkable contribution to this field."
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

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597261807
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • 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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