Ed McMahon

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Edward T. McMahon is an attorney and expert in sustainable development. He is a senior resident fellow and holder of the Charles E. Fraser Chair for Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy at the non-profit Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C.

McMahon graduated from John Carroll Catholic High School and went to Spring Hill College in Mobile for his bachelor's degree. He returned to Birmingham for a master's degree in urban studies at UAB (1973) while working for Operation New Birmingham. He later earned a Juris Doctorate in 1975 at the Georgetown University Law School and taught law and public policy there from 1976 to 1985.

McMahon co-founded Scenic America, a national non-profit devoted to preserving scenic landscapes, in 1985 and served as its president for five years. He then spent a short time as visiting scholar at the Environmental Law Institute before joining The Conservation Fund as vice-president, a title he held for 14 years before moving to the Urban Land Institute in 2004.

McMahon was quoted in a Birmingham News article as saying of the proposed Northern Beltline that "building beltways as an economic development tool is last-century thinking." Instead he recommends redeveloping areas of the region already served with infrastructure. McMahon has also done research on how national chains have adapted their prototypical designs to win local approval. Commenting on proposals for suburban-style Chick-Fil-A and Walgreen's stores in Southside in 2010, he said that "pushback from local residents" was crucial in getting national chains to pursue unique design solutions in urban settings.


  • Arbetman, Lee, Edward L. O'Brien, and Edward T. McMahon (1989) Street Law: A Course in Practical Law. West Publishing Company. ISBN 0314681981
  • Howe, Jim, Edward T. McMahon and Luther Propst (1997) Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities. Island Press. ISBN 1559635452
  • McQueen, Mike and Ed McMahon (2003) Land Conservation Finance. Island Press. ISBN 1559634812
  • Benedict, Mark A. and Edward T. McMahon (2006) Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities. Island Press. ISBN 1559635584
  • Franko, Richard, Jo Allen Gause, Jim Heid, Jr, Steven Kellenberg, Jeff Kingsbury, Edward T. McMahon, Judi G. Schweitzer, and Daniel K. Stone. (2007) Developing Sustainable Planned Communities. Urban Land Institute. ISBN 0874209919
  • McMahon, Edward T. (2007) "Improving the Design of Chains and Franchises." Urban Land. Vol. 66, No. 8, pp. 141-5