Density and the Planning Edge

Zoning Practice — August 2012

By Lisa Nisenson


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The growing demand for city living naturally boosts demand for building rehabilitation and redevelopment. However, urbanists hoping to accelerate the renaissance need to reckon with market and other forces that still hold back redevelopment. Ask developers, smart growth advocates, planners, and local officials to name the greatest barrier to redevelopment and infill, and there is one answer common to all: neighborhood opposition to new density and redevelopment.

Smart growth and housing advocates have developed a range of tool boxes, guides, and graphics to address the main points of opposition: reduced property values, traffic, and livability factors. These resources help make the case for why density and redevelopment should occur in the first place but seldom address neighbors' legitimate concerns about introduced impacts.

This issue of Zoning Practice initiates a conversation about design solutions for the planning edge, the space where new density meets the neighborhood, and it presents a framework for planning, design, and regulatory solutions.


Page Count
Date Published
Aug. 1, 2012
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Lisa Nisenson
Lisa Nisenson is on the forefront of helping cities adopt innovation. She is Vice President of New Mobility & Connected Communities for WGI, where she leads development of next generation planning, smart city technology strategies, emerging mobility, and integrated placemaking. Her current projects include planning for autonmous shuttles in transit, a curbside management and parking study, and three mobility studies. She is a co-author of the upcoming PAS update for Complete Streets and the March 2022 Zoning Practice on Mobility Hubs. She founded the civic start-up, GreaterPlaces, is member of the American Planning Association Smart City Task Force and is a Consortium for Scenario Planning board member. Previously she has worked with Alta Planning + Design, Sarasota County Florida, and US EPA’s Smart Growth office. She is a graduate of Meredith College and Harvard University.