July 31, 2004 12:00 PM Subscribe
Urban Planning Filter: When I first moved to Seattle, someone explained how the city managed urban growth, particularly tall buildings. [M^I]
posted by Kwantsar to society & culture (3 answers total)
Supposedly at some time in the past, a big table of all buildings was drawn up. Each building was given a height variance equal to its actual height. For each year that a building's owner paid their property tax in full, they got an additional 1/2 floor variance. When someone wants to build a new, tall building, they can buy variances from people who own small buildings. They then take the variances to the city, and ask for approval.
Is this how it actually works in Seattle? What about NYC, Chicago, LA, and other cities with tall buildings? It seems like a good system - real estate developers have to fight among themselves to get the variances they need. The government only needs to get involved after the developers have gone through that process and shelled out lots of dollars for the variances. Since the whole city grows by an average of 1/2 a story a year, highly speculative projects that fail are less likely.