I write about land use politics a lot (less so here now that I’m blogging here now) and it’s a fun emerging issue in Democratic politics that progressives should strive to know more about.
I’ll co-sign on this reading list from the Stroad To Boulevard blogger, highlighting The Option of Urbanism by Christopher Leinberger as a particularly good intro to the key issues. Another five books I’d add to the pile are:
The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup – a huge tome, but an essential read. You will be spitting mad at how much money “free” parking is quietly stealing from us
Triumph of the City by Ed Glaeser – a great introduction to urban economics, and the fiscal arguments for denser development
The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs – everybody likes Death and Life of Great American Cities, and you should read that too, but this is heavier on the economic politics
City Rules: How Regulations Affect Urban Form by Emily Talen – once you’ve read the broader urbanist arguments in the ones above, you’ll want to dive a little deeper into why, if the urban form is so genius, that’s not the dominant development pattern. Talen shows you how hyper-regulated and prescriptive most zoning codes are, and this will provide you with plenty of ammunition to smack down people who say the suburban form is just the result of market processes at work.
The Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva – this gets into the how issues of how to transform first and second ring suburbs into better places. Large swathes of the country are completely screwed, but many suburban places can get substantially better if local politicians have the right priorities. This book will give you an eye for spotting and fixing the stupid.