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Urban populations often seek to fight population density, P.1

10/6/2011 | Real Estate Blog

Our Philadelphia readers may be interested in a recent Forbes article discussing population density. The article noted that while some urban policy experts feel that government population density regulations-even those seeking to slow growth in urban areas-are a subtle effort by urbanites to unfairly impose urban lifestyle preferences on residents, there is nevertheless evidence that urban residents very often favor and seek out government regulations which seek to slow “urban densification.”

The resistance and political action of many urban residents to increasing population density is sometimes referred to as the “down-zoning uprising.” Down-zoning is the process by which an area of land is rezoned for a use that is less developed than its previous use. The purpose of down-zoning, as it likely obvious, is to prevent over-zoning by limiting urban sprawl and concentrating areas of growth to smaller sections of land.

One simple example of down-zoning is to clear an area of apartment buildings and redevelop it with single-family homes. In the commercial real estate sector, it can occur where an area built up with shopping centers is redeveloped for small shops and restaurants.

Down-zoning can present problems where those previously using the land for one purpose are no longer able to continue using it in that way. Oftentimes such individuals will be allowed to continue the previous use, but that isn’t always the case.

Down-zoning, rather than being a move opposed to progress, is often a way to revitalize a city by directing traffic to downtown businesses and preventing unsightly overbuilding.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at the issue of down-zoning.

Source: Forbes, “The Downzoning Uprising and the Fight Against Density,” Mark Bergen, Sep 26, 2011.