Summary of Six American Inclusionary Zoning Programs

Case studies have been prepared for six of the better-known and generally more successful programs in the US.   They were  selected to include examples from communities of different sizes and from various parts of  the US.   The following overview identifies these programs, and provides a summary of their main features.

The preparation of these case studies was funded by the Wellesley Institute.These case studies are based upon a review of the available literature on these programs, current municipal regulations and reports, as well as multiple interviews with the program administrators and other key staff.

Montgomery County MD: Moderately Priced Housing Program

Montgomery County, a large county of 950,000 directly outside of Washington DC, adopted one of the earliest and probably the single most productive program so far.  Despite its success, it cannot be considered a model program, as it continues to take a different approach on key aspects that have not been widely followed by later programs.  Read the full case study

Davis CA: Affordable Housing Program

Davis, a small city of 65,000 in northern California, is known for its progressive planning and environmental policies.  This program is notable for its efforts to provide a fuller range of housing types, including a variety of affordable ownership and rental housing as well as the dedication of land for social and special needs housing.   Read the full case study.

Burlington VT: Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance

Burlington, a small city of 40,000 in northern Vermont, is known for its many and progressive affordable housing initiatives.  Its inclusionary program draws upon and incorporates many of the best practices developed elsewhere, while introducing innovations of its own – notably, imposing a higher affordable housing obligation in developments serving higher income levels.  Read the full case study.

Boston MA: Inclusionary Development Policy

Boston, a city of 600,000, has one of the two earliest programs adopted by a major city.  Like its counterpart in San Francisco, it introduced a new approach in which inclusionary requirements were applied to developments going through the re-zoning process, while allowing the cost off-sets to be determined through negotiation.  Read the full case study.

San Francisco CA: Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program

San Francisco, a city of 750,000, is one of two major cities first to adopt inclusionary zoning.  This program has been adapted in substantial ways over the years to make it more productive and demanding.  It imposes a different affordable housing obligation on developments needing re-zoning and those proceeding as-of-right.  It possibly is the only program that does not provide density bonuses or other cost off-sets for as-of-right developments.  Read the full case study.

Chicago IL: Affordable Requirements Ordinance

Chicago, with its population of 2.8 million, is now the largest jurisdiction with an inclusionary zoning program.  Recently adopted after resistance from a powerful mayor, this program represents a political compromise that falls short of what was sought by the proponents of the program.   Read the full case study.


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