March 08, 2012 - It's one thing for advocates and pundits like yours truly to advocate the greening of cities, towns and suburbs through environmentally responsible revitalization and land development. But it's quite another for local governments to develop and implement policy instruments that can make that goal easier, rather than harder, to achieve.
In many places, as I've written before, it's not even legal to build good green development under outdated land use laws. At best, fixing that involves specialized knowledge and the application of technical detail. And, make no mistake: In our country, it's up the locals.
Contrary to increasingly wild claims that a thoughtful, forward-looking approach to land use is controlled by a shadowy United Nations mandate, rules about development in the U.S. are made collectively by the residents of towns, counties and cities, acting through their local elected councils and the local agencies they have constructed to handle the details.
Conceptually, it's not that different than the way that traffic laws are made or public parks administered. And, just as is the case with every other local function today, municipal agencies working on land use are strapped for budget, staff, and expertise. read more>>>