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Paul Davidoff

Paul Davidoff

American academic
Paul Davidoff
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American academic
Is Academic
From United States of America
Type Education
Gender male
Death 27 December 1984
The details


Paul Davidoff (February 14, 1930 – December 27, 1984) was an American planner, planning educator, and planning theoretician who conceptualized "advocacy planning" with his wife, Linda Stone Davidoff. In legal scholarship, he is known as the primary litigant in the Mount Laurel decision, which established a state-constitutional basis for inclusionary zoning in New Jersey, a doctrine which has been accepted in other United States jurisdictions. Davidoff founded the Suburban Action Institute and the urban planning department at Hunter College, and also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University during his career.

Life and career

Davidoff was born in New York City on February 14, 1930 to Bernard and Mildred Davidoff. He completed an undergraduate degree at Allegheny College and started but did not complete a law degree at Yale Law School before enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts, where he graduated with a degree in city planning in 1956. While teaching there, he also received a law degree from the university in 1961. He and Linda Greenberg met in the 1960s while she was a planning student at Penn and were married.

Over his career he held positions with planning agencies and in academia in around New York City. He worked for several years as a planner in New Canaan, CT, and later for the prestigious architectural firm of Voorhees, Walker Smith & Smith. In 1964 he founded the department of urban studies at Hunter College in New York.

Davidoff founded the Suburban Action Institute in 1969. It challenged exclusionary zoning in the courts, winning a notable success in the landmark Mt. Laurel case (South Burlington County NAACP v. Mount Laurel Township, 92 N.J., 158). This litigation led to the requirement by the New Jersey Supreme Court (1983) that communities supply their “regional fair share” of low-income housing needs, known as the "Mt. Laurel Doctrine."

Davidoff died in New York City from complications related to cancer treatment on December 27, 1984.

Advocacy planning

In 1964, Davidoff became a founding member the advocacy planning organization "Planners for Equal Opportunity."


The American Planning Association presents the Paul Davidoff National Award for Social Change and Diversity annually to a project, group, or individual that has assisted the disadvantaged.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning has presented the Paul Davidoff Award every other year since 1985 to recognize "an outstanding book publication regarding participatory planning and positive social change, opposing poverty and racism as factors in society and seeking ways to address disparities across race, class, language, and gender." The 2013 award went to a book that dealt with Davidoff's own work on the Mt. Laurel Case: Climbing Mount Laurel by Douglas S. Massey, Len Albright, Rebecca Casciano, Elizabeth Derickson & David N. Kinsey.

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