Accommodating Density

Zoning Practice — May 2009

By Thomas Smith, Mary Fishman


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Planners struggle with issues of residential density and residential building scale. Most appreciate the benefits of having a diverse housing stock. Planners acknowledge the benefits of diversity in local communities and the benefits of allowing people to "age in place," which means permitting diverse housing options that allow families to move to different types of housing in the same community as their housing needs change.

Unfortunately, most of the planning literature discussing issues of density is theoretical. Development in urban locations occurs as marginal change within established neighborhoods. growth takes place at infill locations as existing land uses change or inefficiently used properties are redeveloped.

This issue of Zoning Practice uses Chicago as an exemplar to explore where increased residential density will be most welcome and where zoning battles will be least significant.


Page Count
Date Published
May 1, 2009
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Thomas Smith

Mary Fishman