Contacts - Reshaping Development Patterns

Western Lands and Communities
Program Director
602-393-4310, ext. 309
Hannah Oliver
Western Lands and Communities
Program Associate
602-393-4310, ext. 316

Randy Carpenter
Northern Rockies Legacy Program
Program Director
406-587-7331, ext. 3002
Jillian Sutherland
Western Colorado Legacy Program
Economic and Community Developmenet Project Manager


New Publication - Arrested Developments


Arrested Developments: Combating Zombie Subdivisions and Other Excess Entitlements by Jim Holway with Don Elliott and Anna Trentadue. The link below takes you to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy publication library.

Download the policy focus report

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Home Where We Work Westwide Program & Projects Reshaping Development Patterns-Arrested Developments

Arrested Developments: Combating Zombie Subdivisions and Other Excess Entitlements

Arrested-Developments-PFR-CoverSince the post-2007 real estate bust, which hit many parts of the Intermountain West severely, eroding subdivision roads slice through farmland and open space, while "spec" houses stand alone amid many rural and suburban landscapes. Some are empty; however the inhabited homes require the delivery of public services to remote neighborhoods that generate very little tax revenue.

In the Intermountain West, where land is abundant and rapid growth is common, it's not unusual for local governments to grant development rights well in advance of market demand for housing. Boom and bust cycles are not rare in the region. The magnitude of the Great Recession, however, amplified the frequency of excess entitlements and exacerbated the harmful impact they have on surrounding communities. In the Intermountain West alone millions of vacant lots are "entitled." Across a large number of the region's counties the rate of vacant subdivision parcels ranges from around 15 to 66 percent of all lots.

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute initiated this project to provide information and tools to help cities and counties struggling with distressed subdivisions. Drawing on case studies, lessons shared by experts during several workshops, survey results, and data analysis, this report identifies the challenges communities typically face when they attempt to address excess development entitlements. It also recommends measures to treat existing problems and prevent them in future boom and bust cycles—including a model process to help communities address issues in their jurisdictions.

This report concludes with a comprehensive set of policy recommendations that target the most common challenges faced by communities as they address excess development entitlements.

  • Adopt new state enabling authority to ensure local governments have the tools and guidance they need.
  • Prepare and revise community comprehensive plans and entitlement strategies as a foundation for local action.
  • Adopt enhanced procedures for development approvals and ensure policies are up to date and consistently applied.
  • Adapt and adjust policy approaches to market conditions.
  • Rationalize development assurances to ensure they are practical, affordable, and enforceable.
  • Establish mechanisms to ensure development pays its share of costs.
  • Serve as a facilitator-pursue public/ private partnerships to forge creative and sustainable solutions.
  • Establish systems for monitoring, tracking and analyzing development data to enable effective and targeted solutions to specific subdivisions.
  • Build community capacity and maintain the necessary political will to take and sustain policy action.

Download the report

From the Policy Focus Report


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            Best Practices                         Development Assurances                         Glossary                                
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               How-to-Guide                             Legal Memos                               Survey Results
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Additional Information

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