How Often Do Cities Mandate Smart Growth or Green Building?

21 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2015 Last revised: 17 Jul 2015

See all articles by Michael Lewyn

Michael Lewyn

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2014


Much has been written about the role of government regulation in facilitating automobile-oriented sprawl. Zoning codes reduce walkability by artificially segregating housing from commerce, forcing businesses and multifamily landlords to surround their buildings with parking, and artificially reducing density. The “smart growth” movement seeks to reverse these policies, both through regulation and through more libertarian, deregulatory policies. The purpose of this paper is to examine to what extent cities have in fact chosen the former path, and to discuss the possible side effects of prescriptive smart growth and green building regulations. In particular, this paper focuses on attempts to make cities more pedestrian-friendly (as opposed to smart growth policies designed to restrict the location of suburban development).

This article focuses on the zoning regulations of twenty-four mid-sized cities (that is, cities with between 500,000 and 1 million residents); I chose this sample because it is large enough to reflect the policies of a reasonably diverse number of cities, yet small enough to be manageable. In addition, I focus on three types of regulation: parking, density, and “green building.”

Keywords: land use, zoning, gentrification, smart growth, green building, urban planning, walkability, sprawl, parking, density, cities

Suggested Citation

Lewyn, Michael, How Often Do Cities Mandate Smart Growth or Green Building? (2014). 43 Real Est. L.J. 211 (Fall 2014); Touro Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 15-24. Available at SSRN:

Michael Lewyn (Contact Author)

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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