To Save Open Space, Build Upward!

Claire Thompson gives us an inspiring story out of Seattle where a developer swapped the right to turn some farmland into suburban housing for the right to increase the density of a planned development elsewhere in the area.

That kind of thing makes my day. It’s only unfortunate that it so frequently has to happen on an ad-hoc basis. When metro areas insist on short buildings, large lots, extensive provision of parking, and so forth, they set up a very stark zero-sum competition between sprawl and provision of an adequate quantity of housing and commercial facilities. If you take places that are already developed or already slated for development and let entrepreneurs build to the maximum the market will sustain, then it’s possible to create parks, protected wilderness areas, or other more rustic settings at a much lower cost.