Building Healthy Places Book & Film Club: Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It


2023-01-26 - 2023-02-09


Registration is complimentary and open to everyone.

We’re starting the new year with the new title Arbitrary Lines by author M. Nolan Gray. The book lays the groundwork for reshaping the city by clearing up common confusions and myths about how American cities regulate growth and examines contemporary critiques of zoning. Gray argues that zoning has failed to address our most basic concerns about urban growth over the past century, and outlines how we might plan more affordable, prosperous, equitable, and sustainable American towns and cities.

The Building Healthy Places Book Club is supported by ULI Foundation Governor Randall Lewis.

THE SCHEDULE: January 10 – February 9, 2023

  • Reading Kickoff, January 10 |  Participants will receive a Book Club 101 email outlining how the Book Club will work, along with the suggested 5-week reading schedule.
  • Meetup #1: Midbook Discussion Groups, January 26, 4 pm ET via Zoom | Participants assemble for online to reflect on the first few chapters of the book and preview forthcoming ULI research report “Reshaping the City: Zoning Reform for Health, Sustainability, and Resilience.”
  • Meetup #2: Talk with the Author, February 9, 4 pm ET via Zoom | At the close of the reading period, author M. Nolan Gray will share his personal story and motivations for writing the book; and engage in a robust discussion with participants.
  • Weekly Thought Prompts | In weekly emails, the author will offer observations and questions to guide your reading. Weekly emails will align with the five week suggested reading schedule.


  • Participation is free with registration.
  • Order “Arbitrary Lines” direct from Island Press and save 30% with code ULICLUB.
  • Participants receive a Book Club 101 email, along with the suggested reading schedule; links to the virtual meetups; and weekly thought prompts via email.
  • Meetups are scheduled for 75 minutes and start promptly at 4 pm ET.
  • Reading the book or listening to the audiobook is recommended but not required to participate.