Rick Pruetz

SmartPreservation.net is edited by Rick Pruetz with the help of countless planners, elected officials, activists, and journalists. Rick is a former city planner and planning consultant who continues to write about transfer of development rights, ecomobility, and sustainability in general. Please refer to the resume below for details.In the April 2014 issue of Planning magazine, Paul Farmer, Executive Director and CEO of the American Planning Association, acknowledged Rick in a Perspectives column on planning innovations: “Often, planning innovations occur in areas of policy, financing, or practices. Often, such advances can be traced to a few people. Richard Pruetz, FAICP, has shown that one informed, determined professional can take an idea and move it into practice. Through his work on transfer of development rights – largely in the western US – and his articles and books, his innovative work has transformed landscapes.”

Rick Pruetz is a former city planner and planning consultant who continues to write about transfer of development rights, ecomobility, and sustainability in general. He received a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 1979 and held planning positions in the public and private sector for 20 years including 15 years as the City Planner of Burbank, California. From 1999 to 2021, he headed Planning & Implementation Strategies, a consulting practice that specialized in transfer of development rights (TDR) studies and ordinances (See Attachment A). He has written four books about TDR, most recently Smart Climate Action through Transfer of Development Rights (2021). He has also written about conservation leadership in Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes (2012) and bicycle-based economic development in Prosperity Comes in Cycles: Bikeways and the Virtuous Cycle (2021). He also conducted numerous TDR workshops (Attachment B) and presentations (Attachment C). In 2004, he was inducted into the American Institute of Certified Planners College of Fellows.


Smart Climate Action through Transfer of Development Rights. Arje Press. 2021. 209 pages.

Prosperity Comes in Cycles: Bikeways and the Virtuous Cycle. Arje Press, 2021, 228 pages.

Ecocity Snapshots: Learning from Europe’s Greenest Places. Arje Press. 2016. 227 pages.

Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes, American Planning Association, 2012, 224 pages.

The TDR Handbook: Designing and Implementing Transfer of Development Rights Programs, (with Arthur C. Nelson and Doug Woodruff), Island Press, 2012, 313 pages.

Beyond Takings and Givings: Saving Natural Areas, Farmland and Historic Landmarks with Transfer of Development Rights and Density Transfer Charges, Arje Press, 2003, 500 pages.

Saved By Development: Preserving Environmental Areas, Farmland and Historic Landmarks With Transfer of Development Rights, Arje Press, 1997, 436 pages.

Putting Transfer of Development Rights to Work in California, Solano Press Books, 1993, 222 pages.

Other Selected Publications

Climate Action and Transferable Development Rights. American Planning Association. Zoning Practice. December, 2020.           

Transferable Development Credits Puts Growth in Its Place. Chapter 10 in Instruments of Planning: Tensions and Challenges for More Equitable and Sustainable Cities. Edited by Rebecca Leshinsky and Crystal Legacy. Routledge/Royal Town Planning Institute. 2016.

Eco-cities and Transferable Development Credits. Reflections Issue 18. International Ecocities Initiative. University of Westminster. December 2016.

“Learning from the European Green Capitals”, Practicing Planner, March 2014.

”Transfer of Development Credits Helps Cities Grow Up”, Built Environment, December 2013.

“Tradable Development Rights to Protect Peri-Urban Areas: Lessons from the United States and Observations on Australian Practice”, with Ben Harmon and Peter Houston. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, December 2013.

“Prosperity Comes in Cycles”, Planning, November 2013

“Smart Growth Takes Smart Preservation”, The Commissioner, (American Planning Association), Spring 2012.

“Smart Growth Conference Offers Profiles in Preservation”, American Planning Association Sustaining Places [blog], February 22, 2012

Transfer of Development Rights. Part of Chapter 4 in Sustainable and Resilient Communities: A Comprehensive Action Plan for Towns, Cities, and Regions. Edited by Stephen Coyle. Wiley. 2011.

“TDR-Less TDR Revisited: Transfer of Development Rights Innovations and Gunnison County’s Residential Density Transfer Program,” with Mike Pelletier and Christopher Duerksen, PAS Memo, (American Planning Association), May-June 2010.

“Is Your Community TDR-Ready?” with Noah Standridge, Zoning Practice, (American Planning Association), September 2009.

“What Makes Transfer of Development Rights Work? – Success Factors From Research and Practice”, with Noah Standridge, Journal of the American Planning Association, Winter 2009.

“Planners’ experiences in managing growth using transferable development rights (TDR) in the United States”, with Michael D. Kaplowitz and Patricia Machemer, Land Use Policy, July 2008.

“Transfer of Development Rights Turns 40” with Erica Pruetz, Planning & Environmental Law, (American Planning Association), June 2007.

“TDR to the Rescue”, Planning, (American Planning Association), February 2007. 

“Making TDR Work for You”, The Commissioner, (American Planning Association), Winter 2005.

TDRs and Other Market-Based Land Mechanisms: How They Work and Their Role in Shaping Metropolitan Growth, with William Fulton, Jan Mazurek and Chris Williamson, The Brookings Institution, June 2004.

“TDR-Less TDR: A Transfer of Development Rights Approach That ‘Custom Fits’ Transactions”, PAS Memo, (American Planning Association), August 2002.

“Putting Growth In Its Place, With Transfer of Development Rights”, Planning Commissioners Journal, Summer 1998.

“Transfer of Development Rights Turns 30”, California Planner, (American Planning Association – California Chapter), May-June 1998.

“Viewpoint” (on the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Suitum decision on TDR), Planning, American Planning Association, January 1998.


SmartPreservation.net – Includes profiles of communities that excel at open space preservation plus case studies of 282 TDR programs from around the US and 37 programs in other countries.

Professional Awards & Affiliations

Fellow, American Institute of Certified Planners

Editorial Advisory Board (Former Member), Journal of the American Planning Association

American Planning Association, (Former Board Member): California Chapter, Los Angeles Section

Southern California Planning Congress, Former President 

Attachment A: TDR Ordinances, Feasibility Studies, Research & Consultation

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, California/Nevada – Prepared and presented a study of ways in which the agency’s TDR program could be retooled to increase its effectiveness. In 2018, TRPA adopted many of these improvements in amendments to its Code of Ordinances. 

New Jersey Highlands – Prepared draft report in July 2014 on potential approaches to improving the effectiveness of the New Jersey Highlands TDR program which has a planning area of 800,000 acres and allows receiving areas to be created in any jurisdiction in the State of New Jersey. Unlike the New Jersey Pinelands program, formation of receiving areas in the Highlands program is voluntary, creating the need for innovative incentives, possibly similar to those used in King County, Washington and the Puget Sound Regional TDR Program.

Adams County, Colorado – Prepared a study demonstrating how the county’s preexisting TDR ordinance could be retooled to preserve a particularly vulnerable and significant agricultural area.

Milton, Georgia (Deerfield) – Prepared TDR portion of form based code adopted in April 2013 for the City’s Deerfield sub-area. The TDR mechanism here allows owners to preserve their land as open space, retaining private ownership subject to permanent density limitations, or as parks, greenways and trails in return for a higher allocation ratio.

Milton, Georgia (Crabapple) – Prepared TDR portion of form based code adopted in June 2012 for the City’s Crabapple sub-area. This was the first TDR mechanism adopted as part of a Smartcode in the State of Georgia and won an award from the Georgia Planning Association for Outstanding Plan Implementation for a Large Community.

Livermore, California – Working with Solimar Research Group, wrote TDC feasibility study, TDC portion of General Plan Update and TDC Ordinance designed to preserve 14,000 acres of farmland. City adopted the General Plan and TDC Ordinance in 2004 which includes a density transfer charge (DTC) option to gain building permit priority as well as bonus density. To date, developers have chosen the DTC over the TDR compliance option.

Gunnison County, Colorado – Prepared feasibility study of TDR program using dollars rather than TDRs as currency in order to adjust for wide variations in property values within a large county. Ordinance, adopted in 2009, establishes site-specific receiving area cash payment requirement of ten percent of land value increase resulting from bonus density. Revenue from receiving site compliance acquires sending area easements at prices determined by site-specific appraisal and negotiation.

Davis County, Utah – Working with Solimar Research Group for the Nature Conservancy of Utah, prepared a TDR feasibility study, TDR ordinances, intergovernmental agreements and procedures for three cities and Davis County designed to protect the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

Newton County, Georgia – With the University of Georgia, completed a feasibility study of a TDR program that would provide landowners the option of reducing allowable density in return for the ability to sell TDRs to developers in three distinct receiving area scenarios. In 2008, prepared and presented TDR ordinance which was not adopted.

Hiram Village & Township, Portage County, Ohio – In 2008, completed study of feasibility of using TDR to preserve farmland and scenic resources in community with a population of 4,000. Also prepared TDR legislation for Township and Village. 

Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, Massachusetts – In 2011, as part of Planning Center/DCE team, prepared recommendations on TDR strategies to preserve sending areas using receiving areas primarily located on a future rail line.

Macau, Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China- Prepared review of US historic preservation TDR programs in 2009 in support of contemplated code changes for historic resources.

Tacoma, Washington – As part of Planning Center/DCE team, helped prepare TDR feasibility study supporting a subsequently-adopted TDR ordinance to preserve historic landmarks as well as farmland/open space under Pierce County jurisdiction as well as within the City Limits.

Gallatin County, Montana – In 2006, prepared TDR program for Gallatin County/Bozeman Area Zoning Regulations and components for a TDR mechanism proposed as an amendment of the County’s Subdivision Regulations.

Irvine, California – As part of Placeworks team, explored with city staff options for improving existing TDR program.

Collier County, Florida – As part of Placeworks team, prepared paper that evaluated options for retooling Rural Fringe TDR ordinance and maximizing effectiveness with a TDR bank.

Santa Fe County, New Mexico – As part of Placeworks team, analyzed benefits of adding TDR bank to existing TDR program.

Santa Monica, California – Provided recommendations for using TDR to preserve historic structures as implementation of a newly-adopted comprehensive plan.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, California/Nevada – In 2006, prepared paper summarizing stakeholder opinions about TRPA’s 20-year old TDR program.  

DeKalb County, Georgia – In 2006, completed a study with University of Georgia demonstrating feasibility of using TDR to acquire remaining open space in a largely-developed county east of Atlanta.

Thomas County, Georgia – In 2005, as part of three-member University of Georgia team, co-wrote study assessing the feasibility of using TDR to preserve agricultural land and open space in a southern Georgia county.

Riverside County, California – In 2005, for Endangered Habitats League, wrote a TDR ordinance designed to preserve wildlife habitat.

Pickens County, Georgia – In 2005, prepared feasibility study demonstrating the use of TDR to preserve habitat of endangered fish species as part of Etowah River Regional Habitat Conservation Plan.

Etowah River Watershed, Georgia – In 2004, prepared for University of Georgia a TDR feasibility study for Cherokee, Dawson, Forsyth and Paulding counties to evaluate potential use of TDR to implement a regional habitat conservation plan.

Santa Fe County, New Mexico – Prepared a TDR feasibility study and a TDR ordinance, adopted in 2001, designed to protect scenic views and environmental areas within a highway corridor.

San Benito County, California – Completed feasibility study to evaluate the effectiveness of farmland-preservation TDC provisions in an initiative adopted by the County Board in 2003. 

Butte County, California – Completed Feasibility Study to estimate effectiveness of using TDR to preserve County farmland.

North Logan/Cache County, Utah – With Salt Lake City architectural firm, wrote portions of demonstration TDR program to preserve the City of North Logan’s foothills and Cache County farmland.

Whatcom County, Washington – Prepared TDR market study forming the basis for recommended changes to an existing TDR program designed to protect the Lake Whatcom watershed.

Gallatin County, Montana – In 2004, prepared and presented TDR feasibility study evaluating intra- and inter-jurisdictional transfer options for the area surrounding the City of Bozeman and an un-zoned portion of the County.

Tooele County, Utah – Work in support of possible TDR program, 2004.

Santa Barbara County, California – CompletedTDR feasibility study in conjunction with a natural resource inventory evaluating the County’s Gaviota Coast as a potential National Seashore.

Berkeley, California – ForEcocity Builders,prepared TDR ordinance for City consideration designed to encourage conversion of buried stream into a multiuse greenway between the UC campus and San Francisco Bay.

Burbank, California – WroteTDR mechanism adopted in 1991 as part a specific plan to maintain acceptable development limits in Burbank’s Media District.

Lowcountry Council of Governments, South Carolina – As part of DCE Planning team, helped prepare TDR feasibility study and TDR ordinance, subsequently adopted, using TDR to reduce development potential surrounding Marine Corps Air Station – Beaufort.

Beaufort County, South Carolina – As part of DCE Planning team, provided input to Smart Code adopted by Beaufort County that uses TDR to encourage preservation of a portion of Daufuskie Island.

Mountlake Terrace, Washington – As part of DCE Planning team, completed TDR study, including evaluation of potential receiving areas.

James City County, Virginia – As part of DCE team, completed evaluation of TDR as a means of implementing rural preservation goals of recently-adopted comprehensive plan.

Gwinnett County, Georgia – As part of DCE team, developed and presented a TDR mechanism that could be used to either reduce density on sending sites remaining under private ownership or to compensate property owners for deeding their property to the County for parkland.

Attachment B: TDR Workshops

Rancho Cucamonga, California; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Douglas County, Nevada; Madison Township, Ohio; Cornwall Township, Connecticut; Humboldt County, California; Alexandria Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey; Sunland, California; Austin, Texas; Newton County, Georgia; San Diego County, California; Athens, Georgia; La Plata County, Colorado; Whatcom County, Washington; Mesa County, Colorado; Nevada County, California; Douglas County, Nevada; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Livermore, California; Nevada City, California; New York City, New York; The Nature Conservancy. California;

Attachment C: TDR Presentations

Using TDR for Historic Preservation. California Preservation Foundation Annual Conference – Pasadena. May 2017.

San Diego, California, October 2014

Innovations in Farmland Protection, American Farmland Trust, Annual Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, October 2014

Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, August 2014

Grow Riverside, Riverside California, March 2014

Ecocity World Summit, Nantes, France, September, 2013

TDR Two-Day Symposium, State of Rhode Island, Providence, April 2013

APA Annual National Conference, Chicago, Illinois, April 2013

Symposium: Tools for Equitable Urban Intensification, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, April 2013

Farming At Metropolitan Edge Conference, Countryside Alliance – Montgomery County Maryland, Rockville, Maryland, January 2013

California APA Conference, Rancho Mirage, October, 2012

University of California Los Angeles Planning Class, June, 2012

Land Trust Alliance Annual National Rally, Salt Lake City, Utah, September-October, 2012

Riverside, California, Presentation of TDR feasibility to historic preservation organizations, July 2012

Planning Communities of Lasting Value, American Planning Association, National Conference, Los Angeles, California April, 2012

Smart Growth Takes Smart Preservation, New Partners for Smart Growth National Conference, February 3, 2012, San Diego, California. 

University of Southern California Planning Class, July 2011

TDR Also Belongs in Your Climate Change Toolbox, American Planning Association – California, Annual Conference, November 2010, Carlsbad

2010 Visiting Fellow – Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia, (Melbourne, Bendigo, Shepparton, Tatura, Wangaratta and Mildura). May-June 2010.

Oceanside, California TDR presentations to Coast Highway Plan Subcommittee and Planning Commission, May 2010 and October 2009.

Cold Cash for Bonus Density,  American Planning Association National Conference, April 2010, New Orleans

Introduction to TDR, National Business Institute Teleconference Seminar, February 16, 2010

TDR Presentation to Defense Communities Conference, November 5, 2009, Orlando, Florida.

Washington State University Extension, Webinar on Pierce County TDR & PDR, September 2, 2009

Delaware TDR Workshops, August 10 & 11, 2009, Dover, Delaware

Presentations in Australia: CSIRO and Queensland Department of Infrastructure and Planning, July 6 – 9, 2009, Brisbane 

Is Your Community TDR-Ready? American Planning Association National Conference, April 2009, Minneapolis

Scott County, 2009, Shakopee, Minnesota

Louisville Metro Planning & Design, 2009, Louisville, Kentucky

Green Valley Institute, 2008, Hampton, Connecticut

Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, 2008, Brookfield, Connecticut

Cornwall, Connecticut. 2008. TDR presentation to Housing Committee for the Town Plan

Northwestern Conservation District, 2008, Torrington, Connecticut

Land Trust Alliance Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference, 2008, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Gunnison-Style Transfer of Development Rights, American Planning Association Conference, April 2008, Las Vegas

Restored By Development, Ecocities World Forum, San Francisco, California, April 2008

Chattahoochee Hill Country TDR Class, 2007, Palmetto, Georgia

Madison-Morgan Conservancy, 2007, Madison, Georgia

Jackson County, 2007, Jefferson, Georgia

San Luis Obispo County TDR Citizens Advisory Committee, September 2007, San Luis Obispo, California

Franklin Tomorrow Lecture Series and meetings of Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce, Franklin City Council, Franklin City Staff, 2007, Franklin, Tennessee

Oconee County, 2007, Watkinsville, Georgia

Using the Marketplace to Achieve Conservation and Planning Objectives in Oregon’s Dynamic Regulatory Environment, Portland State University, May 2007, Portland, Oregon

Big TDR Innovations from Small Places, American Planning Association Conference, April 2007, Philadelphia

TDR: A Demonstration Study, Levin College Forum/Planning Research and Practice’s Countryside Program, Cleveland State University, April 2007, Cleveland, Ohio

TDR: Making it Work in Washington, Cascade Land Conservancy/State of Washington, March 2007, Seattle, Washington

Sun Valley Sustainability Conference 2006, Sun Valley, Idaho

Pennsylvania Land Trust Association TDR Seminar, 2006, State College, Pennsylvania

Citizens for a Better Flathead, 2006, Kalispell, MT

Madison County, 2005, Danielsville, Georgia

Madison-Morgan Conservancy, 2005, Madison, Georgia

American Planning Association – California Chapter, 2005 Conference, Yosemite National Park

Building Industry Legal Defense (BILD) Foundation Conference, 2005, Long Beach, California

American Planning Association Conference, 2005, San Francisco

Citizens Planning Foundation, 2005, Santa Barbara, California

American Farmland Trust, National Conference, 2004, Lexington, KY

Urban Development Institute of Australia, 2004 presentations in Brisbane, Coolum, Sydney and Perth, Australia

Greenspace Commission, Forsyth County Georgia, 2004, Cumming, GA

Western Planner Conference, 2004, Missoula, MT

Mexico Instituto Nacional de Ecologia’s “International Seminar on Economic Instruments for Environmental Basins”, 2003,Mexico City

American Planning Association Conference, 2002, Chicago

Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute, Annual Conference, 2002, Denver

Upstate Forever Conference, 2002, Greenville, NC

American Planning Association Conference, 2001, New Orleans

American Planning Association’s Conference, 2000, New York

“Transfer of Development Rights Revisited”, audio conference: American Planning Association and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, April 9, 2000.

Rural Development Council of Michigan, 2000, East Lansing

American Planning Association Conference, 1999, Seattle

Sierra Business Council, 1998, Murphys, California

American Planning Association Conference, 1996, Orlando

December, 2021