Assessing the Feasibility of Side Yard Programs as a Solution to Land Vacancy in U.S. Shrinking Cities

15 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2015

See all articles by Joanna Ganning

Joanna Ganning

University of Utah - College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

J. Rosie Tighe

Cleveland State University

Date Written: November 1, 2014

Abstract

Scholars have recommended various strategies to combat land vacancy in shrinking cities. Side yard programs, in which adjacent homeowners purchase vacant lots, represent one such solution. We use the case study city of St. Louis, Missouri to evaluate this approach’s potential for reducing residential land vacancy. The analysis reveals that while demand-side issues (i.e., affordability) exist, the supply-side barriers (i.e., restrictive guidelines and inequitable or illogical pricing structures) are the larger constraints for the program’s success. In St. Louis, the program as currently structured could find buyers for approximately 10.8% of vacant residential parcels if all eligible buyers were interested. Through comparison of policy scenarios, we conclude that program policy significantly influences a program’s potential success, through a range of mechanisms including: restrictions regarding buyers’ owner-occupancy status, side yard lot width maximums, and pricing structure. State legislation regarding tax foreclosure auctions and elements of urban design also influence program effectiveness.

Keywords: shrinking cities, side yards, vacant land

Suggested Citation

Ganning, Joanna and Tighe, J. Rosie, Assessing the Feasibility of Side Yard Programs as a Solution to Land Vacancy in U.S. Shrinking Cities (November 1, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2580352 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2580352

Joanna Ganning

University of Utah - College of Social & Behavioral Sciences ( email )

United States

J. Rosie Tighe (Contact Author)

Cleveland State University ( email )

1717 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115
United States

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