UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Zoning and density transfers Richard, Laura Lee


This thesis presents a critical examination of zoning and density transfers and develops a conceptual framework for their integration. An evaluation of the practice of zoning results in identification of ten major elements of zoning: separation of incompatible uses, restriction on the size and siting of structures, uniformity, noncompensation, protection of property values, rigidity, predictability, negativity, government immunity, and nonretroactivity. Although these elements have changed in response to implementation requirements, they continue to define the basic form of zoning. A density transfer is defined as the separation of a property's development potential and its relocation to another property. Density transfer programs are divided into two major groups: site-to-site transfer programs intended to protect heritage sites, create park sites, or encourage residential development through transfers to one or more properties within the same zone; and, zone-to-zone transfer programs intended to protect agricultural or environmentally sensitive areas from development by their designation as preservation zones from which density may be transferred to growth areas. In analysis of planning and design, economic, legal, political and administrative aspects of density transfers, site-to-site transfers have greater potential for application in Canada than zone-to-zone transfers. This is due to the latter's greater complexity and differences between Canadian and American land use legislation. Through the critical examination of zoning and density transfers, a basis for a conceptual framework which integrates the two concepts is established. An abstraction of two levels of theory is developed. At a higher level of theory, which relates to thoughts about phenomena, a goal-oriented, teleological framework is utilized which incorporates works from the social sciences literature. At a lower level of theory, which concerns relationships between phenomena, zoning's elements are utilized to integrate density transfers with zoning. Density transfers are shown to provide a mechanism for reducing zoning deficiences to achieve public objectives by creating a means for differentiation of individual land parcels within zones, compensation for inequitable regulation, enhancing flexibility, and being a positive, growth directing technique.

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