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Charles R. Wolfe
Charles R. (Chuck) Wolfe, M.R.P., J.D. (@crwolfelaw on twitter) is an attorney in Seattle, where he focuses on land use and environmental law and permitting, including the use of innovative land use regulatory tools and sustainable development techniques on behalf of both the private and public sectors and the successful redevelopment of infill properties under federal, state and local regulatory regimes. He is an accomplished speaker and author on growth management and innovative zoning, “transit-oriented development”, and brownfield/sustainable development topics, regularly participates in regional and national seminars and serves as a reporter for the national publication, Planning & Environmental Law. He is also an Affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington, where he teaches land use law and a range of planning and development courses to planners and future design professionals and is a contributor to major research efforts addressing urban center, transit oriented and brownfield redevelopment. Additionally, Chuck serves on the Management Committee (and is the former Treasurer and Vice Chair, Fund Development) for the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Northwest District Council, is a Member of the Boards of Futurewise and Great City, and is a King County Trustee of Forterra. He contributes regularly on urban development topics for several publications including The Huffington Post, The Atlantic Cities, The Atlantic,, and He blogs regularly at His book, Urbanism Without Effort (Island Press), was released in May, 2013.

Entries by Charles R. Wolfe

Using Urban Observation to "Ghost-Bust" Cities

(0) Comments | Posted March 26, 2015 | 11:08 AM


In Seattle, last week, I looked across the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Olive Way, into McGraw Square, and towards the Westin Hotel, noting a Seattle urbanism trifecta---the Lake Union Streetcar, the skillet food truck and one building of Amazon's new headquarters...

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Reading Cities, Cover to Cover, And Why

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 12:22 PM

Click to view slideshow.

Open a book, read only, say, page 77, and the prose may please the mind or heart, but the richness of the story may suffer. Why? Because the plot is still unclear.

Reading the city is no different, as represented in the "multi-paged" slideshow above...

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From Urbanizing to Urban, According to My Facebook Cover Page

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 11:20 AM

During a year filled with four trips abroad and two months away, many of my 2014 Facebook cover photos helped fill my yearly urban and exurban diaries.

Themes address the overlapping (and therefore hardly mutually exclusive) nuances of habitation, history, cityscape, landscape and ecology.

France, Italy, Monaco, Scotland, Spain...

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Towards 'Canine Equity' in the City

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 4:23 PM

Now is the time for the urban dog.


One of the most immediate cultural distinctions a traveler notices in France is omnipresent,well-behaved dogs, often quite unlike their detached American cousins (perhaps including my own). In a matter of...

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How We Learn From Urban Immersion

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 2:50 PM


How we experience purchases of coffee and baked goods may sound fairly trivial, and elitist.

But, based on my current immersion in the south of France, I have come to think these simple interactions offer valuable lessons for how to live...

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The Human Dimension of Mixed-Use Development

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 10:48 AM

AChat Or_ChuckWolfe1

On a walk from Fréjus to Saint-Raphaël last week, an elderly man asked us, in French, why I had just taken a photograph of his house. I offered to erase the photograph, which was intended to show,...

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Sustainable Housing, Politics and a Basic Pride of Place

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 11:00 AM

Fifth in an illustrated series about place-decoding from the South of France.


What do the politics of urban housing have to do with a seasonal caravan park in Provence? For me, the answer is clear....

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Why the 'Finesse of the Avenue' Is What Cities Need

(0) Comments | Posted October 7, 2014 | 7:38 PM

Fourth in an illustrated series about place-decoding from the South of France.


The Finesse of the Avenue

Last month in Cassis, the Avenue Victor Hugo told the stories surrounding its pavement and curbs.  People walked the Avenue, between a small square-with-fountain and the...

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The Look and Feel of 'Inevitably Urban'

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 7:28 PM

We've been heading in an urban direction for a very long time. Let's look more closely at the role of the people.


Inevitable Urban Times

These times seem so inevitably urban.  Of course, my wry remark comes from...

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How to Decode the Place Between Places

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 12:40 PM

Third in an illustrated series about place-decoding from the South of France.


Today, many promote urban walkability, but for several years, I have focused on inter-urban, or, even inter-settlement walkability. Strolls through such "places between" not only highlight the virtues of...

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The Option of Sensing the City

(0) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 7:04 PM

Second in an illustrated series about place-decoding from the South of France.

How do we decipher this story?

How do we decipher this story of port-side people, buildings and who lives where? Which senses are key?

Place Decoding: Moving Beyond the...

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How to Place-Decode the Elements of Urbanism

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 11:49 AM

First in a series of illustrated ruminations from the South of France.

According to the New York Times' Roger Cohen, France is struggling with changing times, including how perception of classic physical space is evolving as the role of cyberspace expands. Ambiguities range from the changing nature of central State...

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Timeless or Time-Bound in the City?

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 2:22 PM

Take away context clues, and cities become more interesting matrices -- with blank cells to complete -- where each of us personalizes how space meets time.

A uniform filter applied to multiple urban scenes can easily warp time and location, and obscure --- yet somehow enhance -- the reality of...

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Looking Behind the Common Sense Elements of City Life

(0) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 11:38 AM


Last month, in Moustiers Sainte Marie, France, I watched several shopkeepers return a lost young bird to a part of town closer to its natural habitat.

This small drama was a play of few acts, but reflected a pattern of human conduct embedded in urban life. I was...

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As esquinas como linha de base do urbanismo

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 6:06 PM

A esquina é o espaço central da vida urbana. Mais ainda que as praças públicas, que requerem um trabalho consciente de reservar espaço montado, as esquinas são frutos naturais das encruzilhadas, o elemento fundamental das viagens entre diferentes lugares.

As cidades militares da antiguidade romana, ou castra, que seguiam um...

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The Bottom-Line Patterns of Urban Street Design

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 4:55 PM

A recent collaboration suggests that we should explicitly recognize historic patterns of pedestrian city settings in contemporary urban design and policies.

Historic Cours Mirabeau, a 440m walkable main street in Aix-en-Provence, France

Have you ever wondered...

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Why Do We Write About Cities?

(0) Comments | Posted March 30, 2014 | 9:02 PM

When we write about cities, sometimes we do best when we take the metrics away.


In 2011, amid a visit to San Francisco and just back from Africa, I offered some thoughts about why we write about cities.  Three years...

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Targeting the Place-Receiving in Placemaking, and Why

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 5:52 PM

Whether amid the Paris smog that is breaking news or from the inspiration of a timeless, iconic view, it's the "place-receivers" and participants who deserve the most attention.


In 1997, I returned to Europe after a...

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Why Urban History Matters

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 11:44 AM

Going forward, let's not discount the influence of history's recurring themes in how we redevelop the urban realm.


So many discussions about cities today look only forward, without fully considering the past.  We presume ways of life that...

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When Words Lose Their Meaning at the Edge of the City

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 9:30 AM

This Wednesday, the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl victory parade route will span a microcosm of the team's geographic reach -- a stretch of Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle. Does this concentrated celebration, miles away from many "12th Man" fans, mean cities trump suburbs, or is it...

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