I’m researching different approaches that suburban cities have developed to evaluate requests to convert light industrial zones (that are built-out, but not blighted or contaminated) to residential zones. Here in Southern California, land zoned for industrial use is now so valuable that, even if not blighted or contaminated, it is now economically feasible to tear down the existing structures and construct new high-density multi-family residential structures in their place.
So far, I have found the following examples. Some cities approach rezoning applications for conversions on a case-by-case basis. Some cities are more proactive--first determining whether or not industrial properties should be excluded from conversion and then utilizing a set of criteria to evaluate conversion applications submitted for properties not excluded. Other cities develop economic development strategies that recognize the impact of land use policies on the economy and then utilize a set of criteria to evaluate the suitability of proposed conversions of industrial land to other uses. The criteria may simply be a checklist in which a proposed project is ranked according to the attributes of the site. The criteria may be more elaborate, such as a series of questions to be answered about the proposed project where the answers are deliberately not scored to a point system. Some cities analyze their economy; determine where they want to encourage residential development; and then establish residential overlay districts or “specific plans.” [In California a specific plan may be as general as setting forth broad policy concepts, or as detailed as providing direction to every facet of development from the type, location and intensity of uses to the design and capacity of infrastructure; from the resources used to finance public improvements to the design guidelines of a subdivision.]
I am interested in hearing about any other approaches that suburban cities have developed to address increasing residential development in areas that are currently zoned for industrial use, built-out, and not blighted or contaminated.