Minnesota Law Review

The Quiet Revolution Revived: Sustainable Design, Land Use Regulation, and the States

Thirty-seven years ago, a book called The Quiet Revolution in Land Use Control argued that states would soon take over localities’ long-held power over land use regulation. In the authors’ view, this quiet revolution would occur when policymakers and the public recognized that certain problems—like environmental destruction—were too big for localities to handle on their own. Although the quiet revolution has not yet occurred, this Article suggests that it will, and should, occur alongside the ever-growing green-building movement. This movement presents practical and ideological challenges to our current system of regulating land use. This Article examines those challenges, which occur primarily as a result of the “locality”—the local administration and enforcement—of “traditional” land use laws such as zoning ordinances and design controls. It uses the green building example to rebut the post-quiet-revolution scholarly presumption that land use is, or should be, an inherently local function.

Currently, traditional land use regulation takes place at the local level. As written and enforced, zoning and design controls laws create unnecessary conflict between the desire to live in safe, attractive, and culturally rich communities and the desire to make those communities environmentally responsible. This tension raises the question: how should our traditional land use laws change in light of growing evidence of the negative externalities of conventional construction?

This Article argues that the dominant mode of land use regulation nationwide bars the reforms that environmentalists and the building industry have worked together to develop. Given the failures of local governments to facilitate green building, it argues that when the consequences of land use laws exceed local boundaries, “extralocal” regulation should be considered. Instead of either a regional or national approach, this Article takes up the quiet revolution’s rallying cry that states should play a stronger role in shaping the way traditional land use laws respond to green building.

:: View PDF

De Novo

  • Case Comment: Bhogaita v. Altamonte

    EVERY DOG CAN HAVE HIS DAY IN COURT: THE USE OF ANIMALS AS DEMONSTRATIVE EXHIBITS Kyle R. Kroll, Volume 100, Online Managing Editor In Bhogaita v. Altamonte, the Eleventh Circuit recently decided whether to allow a dog in the courtroom as a demonstrative exhibit.[1] Although the case presented many serious [...]

  • Revisiting Water Bankruptcy

    REVISITING WATER BANKRUPTCY IN CALIFORNIA’S FOURTH YEAR OF DROUGHT Olivia Moe, Volume 100, Managing Editor This spring, as “extreme” to “exceptional” drought stretched across most of California—indicating that a four-year streak of drought was not about to resolve itself[1]—Governor Jerry Brown issued an unprecedented order to reduce potable urban water [...]

  • Defying Auer Deference

    DEFYING AUER DEFERENCE: SKIDMORE AS A SOLUTION TO CONSERVATIVE CONCERNS IN PEREZ v. MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSOCIATION Nicholas R. Bednar, Volume 100, Lead Articles Editor* On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association.[1] The Court overturned the D.C. [...]