Zombie Slaying

Zoning Practice — May 2014

By Jim Holway, FAICP


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Excess development entitlements and distressed subdivisions are compromising the quality of life, distorting development patterns and real estate markets, and diminishing fiscal health in communities throughout the United States. Since the post-2007 real estate bust, eroding subdivision roads now slice through farmland and open space, and "spec" houses stand alone amid many rural and suburban landscapes.

Some are empty, but others are partially inhabited, requiring the delivery of public services to remote neighborhoods that generate very little tax revenue. As the economy continues to recover, will the market correct excess entitlements, incentivizing developers to build out distressed subdivisions or to redesign those that do not reflect current market demand? In some locations, yes; in others, it is unlikely.

This issue of Zoning Practice summarizes the lessons learned by communities addressing excess entitlements and presents both policy recommendations and best practices developed from a five-year project. It includes strategies that seek to prevent future problems related to excess entitlements and those for communities that need to treat immediate problems.


Page Count
Date Published
May 1, 2014
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Jim Holway, FAICP
Jim Holway is director of the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. He has 35 years of experience on water and natural resources management. In November, 2016, Jim was re-elected to represent Maricopa County on the Board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District and served as the board’s vice president in 2017-2018. Jim previously directed the Western Lands and Communities program for the Sonoran Institute and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Jim previously served as Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources where he directed the implementation of Arizona’s groundwater management programs. Jim has a Ph.D. in regional planning from the University of North Carolina and a BA in Political Science from Cornell University