The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

Land Use Law in Florida

W. Thomas Hawkins Book Reviews

Land Use Law in FloridaLand use law has a tremendous impact on how every person in the United States lives. City planning and local development decisions impact climate and sea level-rise mitigation and resilience, environmental conservation, economic development, social stability, taxes, and whether we spend our mornings and evenings stuck in traffic.

Thomas Hawkins’ Land Use Law in Florida textbook is both an understandable text for land use or urban planner faculty and students and a comprehensive, detailed resource for practicing lawyers, planners, and elected officials. Hawkins, the former policy and planning director for 1000 Friends of Florida and currently a member of the faculty in the University of Florida’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning, brings his experience as a lawyer, certified planner, expert witness, local elected official, and educator to this excellent text.

The practice of land use law varies from state to state, but many aspects of land use law — such as limits derived from the U.S. Constitution and common law principles like spot zoning and variances — are uniform across the country.

Available through, Land Use Law in Florida explains land use law rules and practices common throughout the country, but provides an in-depth analysis of Florida laws and judicial decisions as examples. It covers the broad spectrum of land use law including comprehensive plans, land development regulations, development orders, public facility planning and finance, environmental and community issues, property rights, and other constitutional issues. Hawkins’ work explains the theories and procedural nuts and bolts of common law and statutory administrative and judicial challenges to land use and development decisions. Its explanations and examples are valuable to readers anywhere in the U.S.

This book really excels in providing Florida state laws and discussing in-depth the litigation options available to a Florida land use lawyer. In chapters organized by the several common land use causes of action, readers can learn how to identify their options for challenging a local government development decision; the procedural path their suit will take; and the essential elements of the claim. Its detailed treatment of Florida’s often unique and nuanced law and issues is unparalleled. Land Use Law in Florida is the definitive, practical, state-specific guide to land use law in the Sunshine State.

Land Use Law in Florida is neither an esoteric, dense textbook nor an inaccessible practice guide that requires extensive prior knowledge and expertise to understand. While it covers the full breath of land use law issues one might expect from a treatise or a casebook used in any law school in the U.S., at 314 pages, it is concise — giving readers only essential federal cases and pithy summaries of necessary rules. It is a perfect blend of the doctrinal and practical aspects of land use and development law from which experts and novices alike will benefit greatly. Practitioners, teachers, and students of land use, real estate law, construction law, local government law, and environmental law should have this book at their disposal.

Richard Grosso of Plantation is a member of The Florida Bar.