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Innovative Solutions to Euclidean Sprawl

August 2001

Citation: 31 ELR 11001

Issue: 8

Author: Nicolas M. Kublicki

Improperly planned urban development has resulted in catastrophic sprawl.1 The present land use zeitgeist hails urban and suburban mixed-use zoning as the solution.2 Mixed-use zoning combines—rather than segregates—residential, commercial, and sometimes industrial land uses, and thereby decreases housing costs, decreases commuting periods, decreases vehicle miles traveled and air emissions, increases the efficient use of land and time, and increases consumer convenience.3

Despite the conceptual validity of these arguments, mixed-use zoning does not automatically decrease sprawl and often encourages it. This is because mixed-use zoning presents two different models of development: suburban mixed-use development and urban mixed-use development. Suburban mixed-use development combines residential and commercial land uses in the suburbs. This model often tends to foster sprawl by importing or replicating urban commercial uses in residential suburbs without adding or retaining housing in the city. In contrast, urban mixed-use development combines residential and commercial land uses in the city. This model generally reduces sprawl by increasing the supply of urban housing without exporting urban commercial uses to the suburbs.

Nicolas M. Kublicki is a Senior Associate at Ervin, Cohen & Jessup LLP, Beverly Hills, California. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1987; his J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1992; and his LL.M. (Environmental Law) from George Washington University National Law Center in 1993. Mr. Kublicki represents individual and institutional clients in real property matters involving development, purchase and sale, leasing, finance, construction, subdivision, zoning, environmental contamination, and title insurance. He is grateful to California land use consultant Craig Lawson of Lawson & Company for his invaluable comments during the writing of this Dialogue. Mr. Kublicki is also thankful to Joseph Cilic of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law and Rodney Lee of Pepperdine University School of Law for their assistance in the research for this Dialogue. The views expressed in this Dialogue are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ervin, Cohen & Jessup LLP, or the Environmental Law Reporter.