PAS Memo — March/April 2007

The Essential Planning Library Revisited

by Shannon Paul and Stuart Meck, FAICP

If an army travels on its stomach, then it follows that a planning department travels on the strength of its library. Having a good library collection of planning-related texts can save time and improve the quality of the planning department's research, as well as stimulate thinking about new approaches.

We first compiled a list of what we consider to be the essential references for any planning department or consulting office for the April 1997 PAS Memo. This issue updates and revises that original list. The selections that follow are intended to provide a balance between the practical and the theoretical. The selection criteria we used were straightforward. We wanted books of enduring quality that either had defined the planning profession or had a major influence on American city planning. We looked for clearly written texts that got to the point quickly and presented common-sense solutions to the problems planners typically face.

There is always a fair degree of debate about what constitutes "essential." In making that decision, we used various resources. First, we drew on our own experience; we favored books that were influential in shaping our professional lives and perspectives. As a librarian and a planner we have different perspectives about books and their roles in our professional lives. The books chosen fell into three main categories — inspirational, daily use, and reference — based on how we used them and perceived their value to others.

We looked to our colleagues for recommendations; we queried academics in planning, local practitioners, and our own Planning Advisory Service (PAS) research associates. We also looked at a number of syllabi used in planning programs and the AICP selected readings list.

Most of the books listed here are still in print. Those available from APA's have direct links to that website. Those books that are out of print are typically available in university and large public libraries. We included such books when we believed nothing comparable is in print.

We have not included PAS reports, although we (obviously) think they are essential to any planning library. Their inclusion would have ballooned the size of the list considerably. PAS subscribers have access to the entire collection of 547 reports, begun in 1949; they can decide for themselves which ones they feel are necessary or relevant to their needs.


Planning and Urban Design StandardsAmerican Planning Association.
Planning and Urban Design Standards. 2006.
New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2006.

A book that you can't be without, Planning and Urban Design Standards covers every aspect of contemporary planning practice with narrative and specially created graphics by the top practitioners. It includes authoritative chapters on plans and plan-making, environmental management, structures, places and place-making, analysis, and implementation, and a killer bibliography. Favorites include Carl Abbott's essays on planning movements in the U.S. and Stephen B. Friedman's articles on real estate analysis and finance, including how to construct pro formas. This book is breathtaking in its scope and detail, and well worth the money.

Anderson, Larz T.
Guidelines for Preparing Urban Plans. 1995.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Building on the concepts in T. J. Kent's The General Urban Plan, Anderson provides guidelines for the preparation of a comprehensive plan. He starts with identification of the client and participants, finishes with implementation of the plan, and in between covers data collection, analysis, and plan preparation. He also includes a useful checklist of topics to include in a local or metropolitan plan.

Arendt, Randall, et al.
Rural by Design. 1994.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Nominally focused on rural planning, the text gives guidance on neo-traditional planning techniques, sprawl avoidance, greenways, cluster development, open space, and farmland preservation. Second printing improved the quality of already elegant sketches. It includes a good bibliography.

Everyday Ethics for Practicing PlannersBarrett, Carol D.
Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners. 2001.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Pinocchio had Jiminy Cricket, planners today have Carol Barrett. For most planners the question isn't whether you will be placed in an ethical dilemma, but when. This book guides planners through a series of scenarios that clarify the issues and make the ethical choice the obvious one. As Barrett says, "Ethical planning isn't always easy"; however, she makes it simple.

Brough, Michael B.
A Unified Development Ordinance. 1985.
Chicago: Planners Press.

This book is an excellent source for any planner drafting a unified development ordinance that pulls together zoning and subdivision control into one document. It serves as a guide for ordinance language and commentary. Intended for smaller and mid-sized communities. Out of print.

Burchell, Robert W., and David Listokin.
The Fiscal Impact Handbook. 1978.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research.

A planning classic, frequently recommended to PAS subscribers, this book is a rigorous treatment of the topic of cost-revenue analysis and the limitations of different approaches. Also handy is The New Practitioner's Guide to Fiscal Impact Analysis by the same authors (Center for Urban Policy Research, 1985), which contains updated demographic multipliers. Sadly, both titles are out of print.

The Planner's Use of InformationDandekar, Hemalata C., Ed.
The Planner's Use of Information. 2nd edition. 2003.
Chicago: Planners Press.

If graduate school is just a blurred memory of caffeine, quizzes, and the GIS lab, then this is the book for you. A stellar collection of authors lays out your information choices — collection, organization, and dissemination — and succinctly explains the pluses and minuses of each selection. Each chapter includes a bibliography. This book should be in every planner's reference collection.

Daniels, Tom, and Katherine Daniels.
The Environmental Planning Handbook. 2003.
Chicago: Planners Press.

A comprehensive examination of the many and varied topics included in environmental planning. This book is a good single source for basic information on water, air, and habitat issues. Chapters on the built environment include transportation, energy, toxic waste, and mining.

Daniels, Thomas L., John W. Keller, and Mark B. Lapping.
The Small Town Planning Handbook. 3rd edition. 2007.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Focuses on the special circumstances and needs of rural towns, especially those with populations of 10,000 or less. Sections include the planning process, planning commissions, economic analysis, housing, transportation and circulation, capital improvements programs, zoning ordinances, and economic development. Good nuts-and-bolts guidance.

The Geography of Opportunity: Race and Housing Choice in Metropolitan AmericaDeSouza Briggs, Xavier, Ed.
The Geography of Opportunity: Race and Housing Choice in Metropolitan America. 2005.
Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

An instant classic, this book is a gathering of the best housing policy minds in the U.S. addressing the issue that never goes away — segregation, both racial and economic. Of special note are, "Connecting Smart Growth, Housing Affordability, and Racial Equity," and the two concluding essays, "Equitable Development for a Stronger Nation: Lessons from the Field" and "Politics and Policy: Changing the Geography of Opportunity."

Faludi, Andreas, Ed.
A Reader in Planning Theory. 1973.
New York: Pergamon.

Essays on the full complement of 20th century planning theory, such as rational planning, advocacy planning, and incrementalism in planning. Of particular note are Paul Davidoff's "Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning," and Martin Meyerson's "Building the Middle-Range Bridge for Comprehensive Planning." Out of print.

Freilich, Robert H., and Michael M. Shultz.
Model Subdivision Regulations. 2nd edition. 1995.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Includes a short history of subdivision regulations, the model subdivision regulations themselves, and commentary. The appendix includes an excerpt on subdivision control from the 1928 Standard City Planning Enabling Act, a summary of the American Law Institute's Model Land Development Code, and practical administrative forms and checklists.

People, Plans and PoliciesGans, Herbert J.
People, Plans and Policies. 1991.
New York: Columbia University Press.

A brilliant, thought-provoking collection of essays on city planning, poverty, racism, and environment and behavior. "City Planning in America: 1890-1968: A Sociological Analysis," speaks volumes about the underlying values and biases, especially that of physical determinism, affecting the development of planning in the U.S. Readers should also look for the earlier version of this book, People and Plans (Basic Books, 1968), which contains several excellent pieces on suburban and new town development omitted from the current edition. Good companion to The Suburb Reader.

Gindroz, Ray, et al.
The Urban Design Handbook: Techniques and Working Methods. 2003.
New York: W. W. Norton.

A nuts-and-bolts introduction to urban design. Pulling from the in-house guidance documents of Urban Design Associates (UDA), the authors walk you through the phases of creating good urban design. Highly recommended with one caveat: What works for UDA may not work for you. Use it as inspiration and have fun. An excellent companion to Guidelines for Preparing Urban Plans.

Greenberg, Michael R., et al.
Local Population and Employment Projection Techniques. 1978.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research.

Highly useful treatment of all types of projection techniques for local governments. Check out the clever Newling model for projections based on density ceilings. Includes computer programs. Out of print.

Fundamentals of Urban DesignHedman, Richard, with Andrew Jaszewski.
Fundamentals of Urban Design. 1984.
Chicago: Planners Press.

An excellent primer on urban form, this volume encourages architects and planners to remember and consider context, preservation, purpose, and building form when reviewing plans for new buildings or urban growth. Hedman played a significant role in the development of San Francisco's famed Urban Design Plan. In many ways, this is an intellectual heir to Unwin's Town Planning in Practice.

Hoch, Charles C., Linda C. Dalton, and Frank S. So., Eds.
The Practice of Local Government Planning. 3rd edition. 2000.
Washington, D.C.: International City Management Association.

This book, in its various editions, defines the practice of planning in the United States. This edition covers comprehensive plan preparation, planning agency organization, capital budgeting, zoning, subdivision control. Fine chapter on urban design by Jonathan Barnett and Gary Hack.

Jacobs, Allan.
Great Streets. 1993.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Great book. Browsable, graphics-intensive examination of what makes a great street. Jacobs's survey includes multiple eras and continents. A must purchase for anyone interested in urban design and improving the quality of our communities.

Death and Life of Great American CitiesJacobs, Jane.
Death and Life of Great American Cities. 1992.
New York: Vintage Books.

"This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding," wrote Jane Jacobs in 1961. The "current city planning" she was attacking flourishes today and with unrelenting orthodoxy. Death and Life details Jacobs's thoughts on the essential conditions of diversity in a city's fabric, conditions that make it exciting, attractive, and safe, and cause constant renewal. As pertinent, bracing, and thought-provoking today as it was 30 years ago.

Jones, Bernie.
Neighborhood Planning. 1990.
Chicago: Planners Press.

This practical guide is intended for both professional planners and the citizens they serve. Jones explains how to translate citizen concerns about neighborhood issues and opportunities into an implementable plan document. Includes a sample citizen survey, tips on organizing public workshops, and several goal-setting exercises.

Kent, Jr., T.J.
The Urban General Plan. 1990.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Kent's unsurpassed classic on the history, purpose, scope, clients, and use of the urban general or "comprehensive" plan. This timeless book is an absolute must.

Krueckeberg, Donald A., and Arthur L. Silvers.
Urban Planning Analysis. 1974.
New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Clearly written introduction to basic quantitative techniques of urban planning and policy analysis. Solid chapters on survey research and analysis, population forecasting, transportation modeling, and program analysis and selection. Out of print, but unequaled by any other similar text.

LaGro, Jr., James A.
Site Analysis: Linking Program and Concept in Land Planning and Design. 2001.
New York: John Wiley and Sons.

The basis of good development is good site planning. This text presents, simply and logically, the site analysis process. The inventory and analysis process is broken down into three categories: physical, biological, and cultural attributes. A good companion to The Living Landscape.

The Devil in the White CityLarson, Erik.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. 2003.
New York: Crown.

City planning is scary enough on its own. But what happens when you combine a detailed account of a landmark event in American city planning history, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and Daniel Burnham's role in it, with an equally detailed account about the real exploits of a serial killer? We won't tell you more than that, but you'll want to hide under the covers. When this book was published, the entire APA Research Department read it ... with the lights on.

Listokin, David, and Carole Walker.
The Subdivision and Site Plan Handbook. 1989.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research.

Contains a model ordinance with commentary for subdivision and site plan review. Good discussion of development standards, and makes the case for reducing excessive standards. Well-illustrated.

Lynch, Kevin.
The Image of the City. 1960.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks are the shorthand Lynch developed to categorize the public image of the city. This original and innovative work has had a major influence on urban design.

Design with NatureMcHarg, Ian.
Design with Nature. 1992.
New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Pioneering inspirational work on environmental planning. Notable for its use of map overlays to identify land development constraints, this text shows how to graphically integrate environmental information.

McLean, Mary L., and Kenneth P. Voytek.
Understanding Your Economy. 2nd edition. 1992.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Nuts-and-bolts explanation of how to do economic analysis for comprehensive planning and how to select strategies that build on the local economy's strengths. This is still the best book on the subject.

Mandelker, Daniel R.
Land Use Law. 5th edition. 2003.
Newark, N.J.: LexisNexis.

Excellent single-volume treatise on land-use controls that has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. Well organized, with an appreciation of the problems faced by planners, Mandelker cuts through the fog. Good bibliographies at the conclusion of each chapter. Supplemented annually.

The Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook 3Meck, Stuart, Gen. Ed..
The Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook 3: Model Statutes for Planning and the Management of Change. 2002.
Chicago: American Planning Association.

Reluctant as we are to cite our own work, the Guidebook, a comprehensive set of model statutes for planning and land-use control with commentary, is a handy reference for the design of regulatory systems. Practicing planners will find chapters 7 (local planning) and 8 to 10 (local development regulation and procedures) provide language that can be easily adapted for plans, zoning and subdivision ordinances, and growth management measures. Also can be used as a source of boilerplate for answers to basic questions, such as, "Why plan?".

Mertes, James D., and James R. Hall.
Park, Recreation, Open Space and Greenway Guidelines. 1995.
Washington, D.C.: National Recreation and Park Association.

An essential resource for park and open space planning, this book includes sections on creating a planning framework, developing level of service guidelines, and classifying various open space resources. Provides numerous formulas to allow municipalities to customize the park planning process.

Monmonier, Mark.
How to Lie with Maps. 2nd edition. 1996.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

From the visual pun on the cover to the epilogue that dissects the motives of the map-maker and user, Monmonier informs with humor and savvy. Of special interest is chapter six, "Development Maps (or How to Seduce the Town Board)." This is a must-have for anyone interested in cartography on a personal or professional level.

The Latest Illustrated Book of Development DefinitionsMoskowitz, Harvey S., and Carl G. Lindbloom.
The Latest Illustrated Book of Development Definitions. 2004.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research.

Helpful commentary and illustrations back up the definitions, which may be used in comprehensive planning and land development. The most complete reference on the subject. Frequently used by PAS researchers. A great supplement to A Planners Dictionary, PAS Report No. 521/522.

Mumford, Lewis.
The City in History. 1961.
New York: Harcourt, Brace.

Sweeping, masterful historical analysis of city development all over the world. Describes why cities came about and what their continuing function is.

Nelson, Arthur C.
Planner's Estimating Guide: Projecting Land-Use and Facility Needs. 2004.
Chicago: Planners Press.

Wonderful fundamental manual on how to project future land use and facility needs by relating them to population and employment data. If you don't use these techniques in comprehensive plan making, you aren't making plans. It comes with Excel worksheets on CD-ROM.

The Suburb ReaderNicolaides, Becky M., and Andrew Wiese, editors.
The Suburb Reader. 2006.
New York: Routledge.

An exciting, bracing, and highly readable collection of documents and articles, some of them hard to find, on the emergence and growth of suburbia in the U.S., analyzed from virtually every perspective. While this was designed to be used in urban studies and urban history courses, don't let that dissuade you from it. Especially recommended are the chapters on postwar suburbia (e.g., William Whyte's "Organization Man," Levittown, and even Mad magazine) and on inclusion and exclusion through zoning and other devices. You will be chilled by reminders of the role that race played — and still plays — in suburban communities.

Orfield, Myron.
Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Community and Stability. 1997.
Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

The book that opened the eyes of many a policy maker to the troubled relationship between inner cities and their suburban brethren. Orfield uses commonly available census and demographic data to demonstrate both how regions are linked together and why they need to work together. Eminently readable. American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality, the 2002 follow-up, expands Orfields's regional work to a national level.

Parking Generation. 3rd edition. 2004.
Washington, D.C.: Institute of Transportation Engineers.

The leading resource for determining the average parking occupancy of a land use or building, this reference addresses airports, bowling alleys, single-family residences, warehouses — they're all here and more. Helpful in establishing standards for zoning codes.

Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and PlanningPatton, Carl V., and David S. Sawicki.
Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning. 2nd edition. 1993.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

This rigorous but clear treatment of methods of policy analysis covers problem definition, data collection, methods of evaluating alternatives (including discounting, forecasting, and sensitivity analysis), approaches to presenting conclusions, and evaluation of implementation. Good case studies show how to apply techniques (see the case study on the redevelopment of Underground Atlanta, a favorite). An instructor's manual is also available.

Peterson, Jon A.
The Birth of City Planning in the United States, 1840-1917. 2003.
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Peterson concentrates on the genesis of the City Beautiful movement, which flourished from 1893 to 1910. He also documents conflicts of dogma between the planners and civic reform activists who were involved in the emergence of city planning. Peterson sets the analysis of American city planning within the context of the political beliefs of progressive urban reformers, and returns to those themes repeatedly.

Rubenstein, Harvey M.
A Guide to Site Planning and Landscape Construction. 4th edition. 1996.
New York: McGraw-Hill.

If you do site plan preparation or reviews, you need this well-illustrated, practical, and highly readable book. It gets better with each edition.

Community Participation Methods in Design and PlanningSanoff, Henry.
Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning. 2000.
New York: John Wiley and Sons.

The bible of citizen participation for planners, this book is a necessary tool on every community planner's desk. Comprehensive in its survey of techniques, pithy in its descriptions, it includes numerous case studies, examples, and illustrations.

Seidman, Karl F.
Economic Development Finance. 2005.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Masterful treatment of the theory and practice of economic development finance. We like the fact that Seidman begins by explaining how to analyze business financial statements before getting into the specifics of the real estate financing process. Chapters on revolving loan funds and municipal financing tools (tax increment financing, assessment districts, and industrial development bonds) will be especially helpful to public sector planners. Good case studies too.

Steiner, Frederick.
The Living Landscape: An Ecological Approach to Landscape Planning. 2nd edition. 2000.
New York: McGraw-Hill.

As intellectual heir to Ian McHarg, Fritz Steiner has produced one of the seminal books on ecology and planning. Using excellent case studies and clear language, the author has produced what amounts to a cookbook in which the final product is an environmentally friendly and sustainable site plan. A complement to The Environmental Planning Handbook.

Transportation Planning HandbookTransportation Planning Handbook. 2nd edition. 1999.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

An Institute of Transportation Engineers publication, this book is basic transportation planning material in one reference book. Here's where to begin your travel forecasting project, locate the definition of an activity center, or determine the capacity of an unsignalized intersection.

Trip Generation. 3 vols. 2003.
Washington, D.C.: Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Aids the planner in estimating the number of vehicle trips generated by a particular land use using different independent variables (e.g., number of dwelling units or amount of gross leasable area). Based on more than 4,250 trip generation studies. Just remember that the data are based on automobile-heavy suburban sites. Updated regularly. Expensive, but worth it.

ULI Development Handbook Series. 9 vols. 1981-1992.
Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute.

Formerly known as the Community Builder's Handbook Series, this collection includes the following titles, published as separate volumes: Resort Development Handbook (1997); Office Development Handbook, 2nd edition (1998); Shopping Center Development Handbook, 3rd edition (1999); Multifamily Housing Development Handbook (2000); Business Park and Industrial Park Development Handbook, 2nd edition (2001); Downtown Development Handbook, 2nd edition (1992); Mixed-Use Development Handbook, 2nd edition (2003); Residential Development Handbook, 3rd edition (2004); and Retail Development Handbook (2007). Long considered a "must have" reference series, some titles are dated, but these books still prove themselves to be the best single source of information on their topics. Each volume consists of a general overview of a development type and case studies of successful developments.

Town Planning in PracticeUnwin, Raymond.
Town Planning in Practice. 1994.
New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

The best book on city planning ever written, this is a masterful exposition on the fine points of site planning, such as the arrangements of streets, squares, and other public places, and buildings. Lushly illustrated, with town plans and photos, Unwin shows how to plan cities at the human scale. Savor his wisdom. Show this book to the local civil engineering firm that does ugly subdivision design in hopes of behavioral modification. Reprint of original 1909 edition published by T. Fisher Unwin.

Whyte, William H.
City: Rediscovering the Center.
New York: Anchor Books.
Everything you know about people and their cities you learned from William "Holly" White — whether you realize it or not. Whyte pioneered the study of pedestrian interactions with open (and not so open) space, other pedestrians, and the social and physical layout of the city. This is a fascinating book that summarizes his decades of research and explains his theory of city life.

There are three articles we feel all planners should read, digest, and incorporate into their everyday lives:

Arnstein, Sherry R. 1969. "A Ladder of Citizen Participation." Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35, No. 4 (July): 216-224.

Davidoff, Paul. 1965. "Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning." Journal of the America Institute of Planners 31, No. 4 (November): 331-337.

Krumholz, Norman, Jerome L Kaufman, Paul Davidoff, and Lawrence Susskind. 1982. "A Retrospective View of Equity Planning: Cleveland 1969-79." Journal of the American Planning Association 48, No. 2 (Spring):163-183.

These seminal works influenced a generation and still hold great power.

Shannon Paul is the APA librarian. Stuart Meck, FAICP, is a faculty fellow and director of the Center for Government Services, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick. If you have an indispensable book or article that is not included in this list, e-mail with your suggestion.