Premature Subdivisions and What to Do About Them
As the recent economic recession has slowed the breakneck pace of growth in the western United States, many communities—from the Great Plains west to the Sierra Nevada Mountains—are struggling with the problems created by "premature land subdivisions." Premature land subdivisions occur when a landowner divides a parcel of land into lots for sale far in advance of the market for those lots. The estimated number of these entitled lots, most of which will not be absorbed by the market for some time, ranges in the hundreds of thousands for some jurisdictions in the West.
This working paper explores the legal approaches and tools available to local governments to manage and resolve the adverse impacts created by premature and obsolete subdivisions. These tools range from regulatory approaches, economic incentives, growth management strategies and land acquisitions that can enable local governments to improve the quality of those subdivisions, in some cases by reducing the number of excess lot entitlements within a subdivision, as well as rationalize the overall growth pattern of the community to keep cost of services down and promote more efficient infrastructure systems.