Can a space preserving system work without regulation?

This possibility is worth considering, but an unregulated system has pitfalls and disadvantages compared to a regulated system. If you want to read more, click here.


One regulation: pay to play

Apart from standards needed to ensure that space is uniformly measured, the regulatory environment is straightforward.The payment for space reduction is not in money; it is in preserved space. The regulation that we recommend creates a “pay to play” environment. If a party’s2 development activities reduce space, then that party is required to pay for the lost space with space preservation. The requirement is not financial, although the preservation of space will add development costs when a space market and the price of space have been established.

A (very) draft regulatory policy3
Development and construction permits shall be issued only when applicants have demonstrated compensating, permanent protection of space in the ratio of 2:1 (space protected : planned space loss). Space shall be measured according to [standards reference].

An example regulatory policy is shown in the box at left. This policy supposes that a number of procedures and institutions are in place to support the demonstration of compensating permanent protection of space. The only satisfactory way to demonstrate compensating protection is through the developer’s direct ownership of space credits. The regulation would do well to require that “demonstrated” means “deposited in an escrow account”, assuming that institutions exist for holding space credits in trust. There are many functions that need to be added to this simple regulation to make a system functional (see Some implementation details).

Setting the space preservation target: the preservation to development (P:D) ratio

The ratio P:D of space protected (P) to space lost to development (D) is one of the core concepts of a space preserving economic system. If the ratio is 1:1, then ultimately half of existing space will be lost to development and half will be permanently preserved. If the ratio P:D is 2:1, then 2/3 of existing space ultimately will be preserved and 1/3 will be lost to development. The fraction of existing space that ultimately will be preserved is P/(P+D). Each space jurisdiciton can determine, through its normal policy mechanisms, the amount of existing space that should be preserved.

When do we reach the space preservation target?

This happens when further development can be done only by creating space through “undevelopment”. Development reaches a steady state, where old development must be removed in order to generate space for new development AND this occurs before all space is filled with development.This means that old development must be removed in order to generate space for new development. An important aspect of the space preserving economic system is that development does not need to end, it can continue in a non space-filling mode. The point of a space preserving economic system is to cause this steady state to occur before everything is developed, so that there is still space in the region. The places where undevelopment is done and space is recovered, as well as the places where new construction occurs, are determined in private financial decisions—this is a free market system. This final, steady-state condition will look, however, quite different from many of today’s sprawling cities where, owing to a historic lack of a space preserving economic system, essentially all private land has been developed and no open space remains—the very future that works to avoid.

Read more…

Kick start

A space jurisdiction can decide to throw its current open space holdings into the pot of “current space,” and generate income for its public open space program. See how this might work.


Regulations specify what should be done, and these usually refer to standards, separate from the regulations, that state how things should be done.

1 Space measurement standards would be essential even in this limited system. Without reliable space measurements, public sector players could not measure their contributions. For the many reasons demonstrated on the page Measuring space, area is not an appropriate measurement of space, and space volume measurement standards would codify the new language of space loss and space preservation.
2 These parties include government entities within the domain of space preservation. If, for example, space preservation were mandated by regulation at state level, then embedded jurisdictions—such as cities and counties—would be required to participate in space preservation compensation.
3 This suggested regulation conveys the gist of the simple regulation, but it is not cast in language that would pass legal review—it needs attention from an attorney.