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Join the Colorado Planners Network Chapter and YIMBY Denver for a discussion with M. Nolan Gray about his new book, zoning abolition, California's recent progressive legislation, and more!


About the book: What if scrapping one flawed policy could bring US cities closer to addressing debilitating housing shortages, stunted growth and innovation, persistent racial and economic segregation, and car-dependent development?

It’s time for America to move beyond zoning, argues city planner M. Nolan Gray in Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It. With lively explanations and stories, Gray shows why zoning abolition is a necessary—if not sufficient—condition for building more affordable, vibrant, equitable, and sustainable cities.

These rules control many aspects of American life and work patterns, which in turn has forced cities into segregated and sprawling design. But, it doesn’t have to be this way, writes Gray. Many cities and states are embracing reforms, like Minneapolis, Fayetteville, Ark., and San Diego.

In Arbitrary Lines, Gray outlines why the thriving city is so essential for economic growth and advancement, how zoning has stymied us from the pursuit of such growth, and why such a regime should be overthrown. He lays out a blueprint for city planners on how to build the American cities of the future—without these arbitrary restrictions that so cripple us from maximizing our potential.


M. Nolan Gray is the research director for California YIMBY and an expert in urban land-use regulation. He is the author of Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How To Fix It. Gray previously worked as a planner in New York City, where he worked on the front lines of zoning. He is a widely published author, with work appearing in outlets such as The AtlanticBloomberg Citylab, and The Guardian. He lives in Los Angeles, California and is originally from Lexington, Kentucky.

Event Details

  • Ashman, Ainsley
  • Garcia, Angelo

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