Salkin on Smart Growth and Sustainable Land Use Planning



Patty Salkin, a well known national expert in land use law, continues to come out with new publications on smart growth and land use.  Local communities everywhere are seeking new ideas about how to address climate change, natural disasters, barriers to healthy lifestyles, and the environments of low-income and minority communities (environmental justice).


The following are 4 valuable publications that address various aspects of the intersection between smart growth and land use planning and regulation. Incidentally, Salkin presented the paper on land use law and active living at the Children, Nature, and Land Use program at the University of Louisville’s first Symposium on Law, Ethics, and the Life Sciences in Fall 2007.  The program on children and the environment was sponsored by the University of Louisville’s Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility.


1) Patricia Salkin, Smart Growth and the Greening of Comprehensive Plans and Land Use Regulations (July 17, 2008).  Available at SSRN: 



Global warming, climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the carbon footprint, and going green are just some of the buzz words in the news over the last two years that have captured the attention of lawmakers and policymakers at all levels of government. In Congress, lawmakers have proposed, among other things, mandating standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and governors across the country have announced myriad programs designed to encourage the use by governments of green products, the construction of green buildings, and the offering of a combination of tax incentives and grants for private developers and other members of the public who develop and install various renewable energy products.


However, it is initiatives at the local government level that have the greatest potential for most quickly and most efficiently slowing the pace of global warming. This is because local governments are the critical decision-makers in how communities use and conserve key resources. Municipalities serious about curbing emissions as well as energy and water usage within their communities, to both combat global warming and to preserve the immediate environment, have found many successful ways to implement plans that reduce the strain on environmental resources. Local governments have begun to incorporate principles and goals of sustainability and carbon reduction into comprehensive land use plans. This paper begins to examine the elements of a "green audit" for local comprehensive plans and land use regulations.


2) Patricia Salkin, Sustainability at the Edge: The Opportunity and Responsibility of Local Governments to Most Effectively Plan for Natural Disaster Mitigation (July, 08 2008). Environmental Law Report, Vol. 38, p. 10158, March 2008.  Available at SSRN: 



The traditional link between disaster mitigation and local land use planning was highlighted by the Disaster Mitigation Act (DMA) of 2000, which emphasizes the need for mitigation coordination among state and local entities. This article looks at the role of local governments in natural disaster mitigation, specifically, how local governments may use traditional land use powers, such as the police power, to protect against disasters. The paper cites DMA provisions that offer financial incentives to states that work with local governments to plan for growth and disasters; and sets forth case studies to illustrate how states can create vertical links among federal, state, and local entities to coordinate disaster mitigation strategies.

3) Patricia Salkin and Amy Lavine, Land Use Law and Active Living: Opportunities for States to Assume a Leadership Role in Promoting and Incentivizing Local Options (October 26, 2007). Rutgers Journal of Law and Urban, Policy Vol. 5, 2008.  Available at SSRN: 



Obesity, asthma and nutrition are just three public health challenges facing children and adults that can be addressed through land use planning and zoning. States must take a leadership role in providing statutory authority and guidance for local governments to enact and implement laws and ordinances designed to promote active living. Land use policies, transportation policies, redevelopment policies and open space and recreation policies are key areas where reform is needed. This paper highlights exisiting examples from various states and offers lawmakers, policymakers and advocates options for reforming state laws to incentivize and influence local actions.

4) Patricia Salkin, Intersection Between Environmental Justice and Land Use Planning. Planning and Environmental Law, May 2006.  Available at SSRN:




Environmental justice goes to the core of traditional land use decisions: choosing sites for locally unwanted land uses (geographic equity); the process for deciding where to site these unwanted land uses, including the location and timing of public hearings (procedural equity); and sociological factors, including which groups hold the political power inherent in land use decisions (social equity). This articles discusses the various tools in land use planning and zoning that can used to promote and implement environmental justice principles.