Planning May 2019

JAPA Articles of the Year

By Ann Forsyth, PhD

JAPA Article of the Year

"Estimates of Transaction Costs in Transfer of Development Rights Programs"
by Sina Shahab, J. Peter Clinch, and Eoin O'Neill

Cover of the Winter 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Every year the associate editors of the Journal of the American Planning Association select the best paper published in JAPA the previous year. This year, from Volume 84, the associate editors chose "Estimates of Transaction Costs in Transfer of Development Rights Programs" by Sina Shahab, lecturer in planning and environmental policy at the University of Cardiff, Wales; J. Peter Clinch, the Jean Monnet Professor and Chair of Public Policy at the University College Dublin (Ireland) Geary Institute; and Eoin O'Neill, a lecturer in environmental policy at University College Dublin.

Transfer of development rights programs have been implemented in 36 states as a market-based approach to preserving farmlands and open space while redirecting future development to targeted areas. However, the authors point out that participating in TDR programs involves transaction costs over and above paying for TDR credits. The authors investigated such costs in four countywide TDR programs in Maryland, a TDR pioneer, by interviewing multiple program participants.

They found that, excluding the initial public-sector costs of establishing the programs, total transaction costs ranged from 13 percent to 21 percent of total TDR costs per transaction and were largely borne by the private sector.

Their conclusion: Planners can work to reduce transaction costs by better constructing TDR programs and providing greater information on TDR sale prices and potential buyers and sellers.

JAPA Best Article by an Early Career Scholar

"Planning for Mixed Use: Affordable for Whom?"
by Markus Moos, Tara Vinodrai, Nick Revington, and Michael Seasons

Two years ago, the JAPA editorial board created a new annual award to recognize a paper by an emerging scholar. This year the award goes to Markus Moos, now an associate professor in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo in Canada, for the paper "Planning for Mixed Use: Affordable for Whom?" The paper is coauthored with Tara Vinodrai, an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo, Nick Revington, a doctoral candidate in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo, and Michael Seasons, an urban planner with Dillon Consulting Limited in Toronto.

The authors examined the effects of mixed use zoning on housing affordability in Toronto between 1991 and 2006 and concluded that housing in mixed use zones remained less affordable than housing in the rest of the city and in the metropolitan region.

They looked at affordability by occupational grouping and found that high-income service occupations experienced improved affordability while lower-wage service, trade, and manufacturing occupations experienced stagnant or worsening affordability.

They proposed that planners should consider a range of policy measures to offset the unintentional outcomes of mixed use developments and ensure affordability within mixed use zones, such as inclusionary zoning, density bonuses linked to affordable housing, and affordable housing trusts.


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Ann Forsyth is the editor of JAPA.