The People Paradox

47 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2011 Last revised: 31 Jan 2012

Date Written: January 23, 2012


U.S. land-use regulators are increasingly embracing mixed-land-use “urban” neighborhoods, rather than single-land-use “suburban” ones, as a planning ideal. This shift away from traditional regulatory practice reflects a growing endorsement of Jane Jacobs’s influential argument that mixed-land-use urban neighborhoods are safer and more socially cohesive than single-land-use suburban ones. Proponents of regulatory reforms encouraging greater mixing of residential and commercial land uses, however, completely disregard a sizable empirical literature suggesting that commercial land use generates, rather than suppress, crime and disorder, and that suburban communities have higher levels of social capital than urban communities. This Article constructs a case for mixed-land-use planning that tackles the uncomfortable reality that these studies present. That case is built upon an apparent paradox: in urban communities, people do not, apparently, make us safer. But they do make us feel safer. This “People Paradox” suggests that, despite an apparent tension between city busyness and safety, land-use regulations that enable mixed-land-use neighborhoods may advance several important urban development goals. It also suggests an often-overlooked connection between land-use and policing policies.

Keywords: mixed land use, crime, urban

JEL Classification: H70, J11, J18, J60, K11, R00, R11, R14, R52

Suggested Citation

Garnett, Nicole Stelle, The People Paradox (January 23, 2012). University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 43, 2012, Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 11-05, Available at SSRN: or

Nicole Stelle Garnett (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States
574-631-3091 (Phone)


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