Pursuing Sustainable Communities: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Urban Lawyer, Vol. 35, p. 495, 2003

38 Pages Posted: 1 May 2007

See all articles by John C. Dernbach

John C. Dernbach

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Scott Bernstein

Center for Neighborhood Technology


This article explains what sustainable development would mean for cities and other communities in the United States, describes U.S. efforts toward sustainable communities between 1992 and 2002, and recommends actions for the next decade. While the connections between environment and development are often abstractions at the national and international levels, they are perhaps nowhere more clear than the places where people live, work, and play. Municipalities should work with each other and with other levels of government to integrate their decision making processes for environment and development, using a strategic planning process and setting goals. Between 1992 and 2002, a small number of local governments addressed sustainable development in some comprehensive way. Sustainable community efforts were most visible on specific issues such as brownfield redevelopment; public access to information, participation, and justice; land use; transportation; housing; public health services; and education. In the coming decade, local governments should adopt and implement sustainable development strategies in coordination with nearby municipalities, and that states and the national government support such efforts. Sustainable development can and should be the organizing principle for improving quality of life and opportunity in our communities. The article also includes recommendations on specific issues.

Keywords: sustainable development, sustainable communities, brownfield redevelopment, land use, transportation, housing, public information, public health services, education

JEL Classification: Q20, Q28, Q30, Q38, Q48, O20, O22

Suggested Citation

Dernbach, John C. and Bernstein, Scott, Pursuing Sustainable Communities: Looking Back, Looking Forward. Urban Lawyer, Vol. 35, p. 495, 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=983502

John C. Dernbach (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States

Scott Bernstein

Center for Neighborhood Technology ( email )

2125 W North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
United States

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