Legal Towns is a blog focused on real estate and the customs and rules that shape urban development. I’m especially interested in how the patterns of traditional urbanism developed over many centuries across Europe and the Mediterranean and shaped the neighborhoods of American towns and cities prior to World War II. I have also written in favor of policies that allow more new housing units to be built, and allow builders to integrate resourceful and traditional approaches (safely, of course) into their work.

I became interested in the role of laws in development patterns when I saw people being displaced from their long-time communities across the New York & New Jersey region in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and realized that a similar pattern was being repeated in many regions. Since then, the soaring cost of housing in growing regions has become a major factor in the economic challenges facing people under 45; and an increasing factor in structural inequality. A rediscovery of traditional urbanism could be part of a solution. With more flexible regulations, growing neighborhoods could better respond to the needs of real people, and the forms of traditional urbanism could shape more beautiful, sustainable growth.

I have a dual degree in law and urban planning. I work as an urban planner in a private asset advisory group in New York. Previously, I’ve worked at the NYC Mayor’s Office on post-Hurricane Sandy housing recovery; have served as a senior research associate at the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research and Baruch College’s Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute, and have practiced law in New Jersey. I’ve also completed research for the Regional Plan Association’s office in Princeton, and have written about urban planning for New Urbs, a Driehaus Foundation-sponsored feature at The American Conservative; for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal; for the Newman Real Estate Institute’s white papers series; and for the Metro New York TOD Newsletter. My photos have appeared on CNN and in marketing materials for real estate companies.

That said, all opinions expressed here are my own; and nothing on this website is offered as legal or town planning advice, nor is it intended to serve as marketing material. I do, however, welcome messages from those with similar interests, and can be reached by email at theo@theopollack.com.

Thanks for visiting!