Graduated Density Zoning to Encourage Land Assembly for Infill Redevelopment

Zoning Practice — January 2009

By Donald Shoup, FAICP


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Graduated density zoning that allows higher density on larger sites promises a new planning strategy to encourage land assembly for infill redevelopment. Zoning that allows higher density (and thus higher land values) on larger sites can increase the incentive for owners to cooperate in a land assembly.

It can also reduce the incentive to hold out by creating a new fear of being left out. If any holdouts from a land assembly are left with sites that cannot be combined with enough contiguous properties to trigger higher density, they lose a valuable opportunity.

This issue of Zoning Practice explains the concept of graduated density zoning and presents the results of implementing this technique in one city.


Page Count
Date Published
Jan. 1, 2009
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Donald Shoup, FAICP
Donald Shoup, FAICP, is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research has focused on transportation, public finance, and land economics, with emphasis on how parking policies affect cities, the economy, and the environment. In his landmark 2005 book, The High Cost of Free Parking, Shoup recommended that cities should (1) charge fair market prices for on-street parking, (2) spend the revenue to improve public services in the metered neighborhoods, and (3) remove off-street parking requirements. In his 2018 book, Parking and the City, Shoup and his co-authors examined the results where cities have adopted these policies. The successful outcomes show this trio of reforms may be the simplest, cheapest, and fastest way to improve cities, protect the environment, and promote social justice. Shoup is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and an Honorary Professor at the Beijing Transportation Research Center. The American Planning Association gave Shoup its National Excellence Award for a Planning Pioneer, and the American Collegiate Schools of Planning gave him its Distinguished Educator Award.