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Growth Management Development Rights - Washington State Department of Commerce
Regional transfer of development rights.
Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) is a market-based mechanism that encourages the voluntary transfer of growth from places where a community would like to see less development (referred to a sending areas) to places where a community would like to see more development (referred to as receiving areas.)
TDR programs are recognized and encouraged in the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) as an innovative land use management technique (RCW 36.70A.090) that transfers development from areas a community wants to conserve to urban areas where growth should be encouraged, consistent with GMA goals.
A TDR program does not limit growth; rather, it allows communities to plan more effectively by directing that growth into areas most appropriate for it. In comprehensive plans and development regulations, communities can identify which areas are suitable to grow at higher intensities and how much additional development is desired.
TDR programs can be designed to accommodate the needs of each community. Jurisdictions can customize the elements of the program to reflect their conservation and development objectives, as well as market conditions and growth patterns unique to a particular area.
Regional Transfer of Development Rights Alliance
The Regional Transfer of Development Rights Alliance is a partnership of King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County Forterra, the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Puget Sound Regional Council.
The Alliance works to encourage cities to participate in the conservation of farm, forestry and open space land through Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) in the four central Puget Sound counties (King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap). The Department of Commerce is an active partner, providing direct technical assistance to counties and cities in the four-county central Puget Sound region.
King County and the City of Seattle received a “Lifetime of GMA Achievement Award” Oct. 13, 2015 at the 25th Anniversary of the GMA Event for the 2013 Transfer of Development Rights Agreement . “The project is one of the best examples of successful planning in the 25 years since the passage of the Growth Management Act,” said Brian Bonlender, the director of Commerce. “TDR is a unique and truly excellent tool.”
In June 2013, the Alliance submitted its final report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Titled Regional Transfer of Development Rights in Puget Sound, it highlights the regional accomplishments of TDR programs in Western Washington and the benefits of TDR programs in general.
Regional Transfer of Development Rights in Puget Sound : A Regional Alliance of Puget Sound Counties, Cities, the Puget Sound Regional Council, Forterra and Department of Commerce – June 2013
Creating a Regional Transfer of Development Rights Program for Central Puget Sound : Recommendations from the Transfer of Development Rights Policy Advisory Committee – December 2008 Conservation non-profit Forterra recorded a video to spread the word about the potential of Transfer of Development Rights programs. They also developed a virtual walking tour of South Lake Union highlighting a few examples of how the city has used the regional TDR program.
Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program
The Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program (LCLIP, RCW 39.108 ) takes the concept of regional TDR further by creating a financial incentive for cities to use the tool. Designed by Forterra, LCLIP authorizes cities to access a form of tax increment financing in return for: 1) the creation of a TDR program; and, 2) the acceptance of a specified amount in regional development rights. In exchange for the placement of development rights in LCLIP districts, the jurisdictional county agrees to contribute a portion of its regular property tax to the sponsoring city for use for a defined period (up to 25 years). This revenue is directed to infrastructure investments that support growth in TDR receiving areas. The program is only available to select cities in the central Puget Sound counties of King, Pierce, and Snohomish. LCLIP is the first and only program of its kind in the United States.
- Opportunities for Conservation and Infrastructure Financing in Puyallup, 2019 (PDF)
- City of Issaquah (PDF)
- City of Mountlake Terrace (PDF)
- City of Sammamish
- Snohomish County
- City of Tacoma
- King County
- Whatcom County (PDF)
- Transfer of Development Rights – Mount Vernon (undated)
- King County/City of Seattle (PDF)
- King County/City of Bellevue (PDF)
- King County/City of Sammamish (PDF)
- Pierce County/City of Tacoma (PDF)
- Interlocal Agreement Concerning the Transfer of Development Rights Receiving Area – Snohomish County/Arlington (2006)
- City of Tacoma (PDF)
- City of Shoreline (PDF)
- City of Tukwila (PDF)
- Seattle Ordinance Authorizing Interlocal Agreement with King County (PDF)
- Seattle Ordinance Accepting LCLIP Allocation (PDF)
- Seattle Ordinance Creating Local Infrastructure Project Area (PDF)
- Snohomish County (PDF)
- Pierce County TDR Certificate Application
- Redmond TDR Certificate Application for Affordable Housing (PDF)
- Redmond TDR Certificate Application for Historic Properties (PDF)
- Redmond TDR Certificate Application for Recreation Areas (PDF)
- Issaquah Sample Conservation Eastments (PDF)
- Pierce County Easement Template (PDF)
- Redmond Sample Conservation Easement (PDF)
- New Jersey Pinelands
- New Jersey Highlands
- Montgomery County, Maryland
- Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Nevada
- Watershed Characterization
- The Washington Department of Ecology has created GIS layers and maps for all 19 Water Resource Inventory Areas in the Puget Sound basin using watershed characterization methods. The maps identify areas most suitable for protection, restoration or development based on the importance and impairment of waterflow in each watershed. Contact Colin Hume at the Department of Ecology, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program for more information.
Priority Habitats and Species
- Priority Habitiat and https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00165Species List
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) maintains a list of species and habitats in Washington state that are highly vulnerable to land use activities. The list is supported by databases of species and habitat locations that can be used for identifying sending areas.
- Local Habitat Assessment – WDFW has developed a habitat assessment tool that ranks relative habitat value across a whole county or watershed. The Local Habitat Assessment, or LHA, methodology produces a color-coded map that is easy to interpret and use to inform sending areas with the greatest habitat value. An LHA is available upon request.
- Landscape Planning for Washington’s Wildlife (PDF) – WDFW developed guidance to help local land use and conservation planners consider biodiversity in the planning process. This document recommends use of TDRs to minimize the impacts of development to conserve biodiversity and provides information for identifying sending areas that will best serve wildlife.
- King County Code Chapter 21A.37
- Pierce County TDR Program
- City of Redmond TDR Program
- City of Arlington – West Arlington Design-Based Code and TDR Program (PDF)
- City of Mountlake Terrace – Freeway/Tourist District (PDF)
- City of Tacoma – Hilltop/MLK Subarea Plan
The law authorizes the Regional TDR program and directs the Department of Commerce to develop program performance measures. The Regional TDR Alliance has developed these measures that counties and cities will report biannually to Commerce for posting here. The law authorizes the Regional TDR program and directs the Department of Commerce to develop program performance measures. The Regional TDR Alliance has developed these measures that counties and cities will report biannually to Commerce for posting here. The following cities and one county have conducted market analyses to prepare for planning for receiving areas.
- Everett – TDR Feasibility Study, April 2012 (PDF)
- Issaquah – TDR Market Analysis, March 2012 (PDF)
- Mountlake Terrace – Market Study to Address Future TDR Program, 2012 (PDF)
- Normandy Park – Manhattan Village Subarea Plan, (PDF)
- Seattle South Lake Union – South Lake Union TDR Economic Analysis, May 2012 (PDF)
- City of Snohomish – Conversion Rate Analysis for TDR, December 2011 (PDF)
- City of Tacoma – TDR Program Market Study, August 2012 (PDF)
- Snohomish County – Purchase of Development Rights/Transfer of Development Rights (PDF), May 2011
- TDR Economics Presentation by Darren Greve, King County, January 2011 (PDF)
- Growth Management
- Governor's Smart Communities Awards
- Climate Program
- Planning for Housing
- Laws and Rules - Growth Management Act
- Periodic Updates - Growth Management Act
- Growth Management Grants
- Growth Management Topics
- Guidebooks and Resources
- Civilian-Military Compatibility
- Defense Community Compatibility
- Integrated Stormwater and Watershed Planning
- Regional Planners' Forums
- Short Course on Local Planning
- Submitting Materials to the State
- Tribal Planning Coordination
Valerie Smith, AICP Senior Planner Email: [email protected] Phone: 360-725-3062
- RCW 43.362 – Regional Transfer of Development Rights Statutory Authority
- Resource Guide to Designing TDR Programs in Washington State (PDF)
- TDR Performance Measures Report, March 2011 (PDF)
- Citizen’s Guide to TDR in Your Neighborhood (PDF)
- TDR Incentives that Jurisdictions Can Provide for Developers (PDF)
- TDR in Washington State: Overview, Benefits, and Challenges, 2008 (PDF)
- Sustainable building
- Transfer of development rights (TDR)
- TDR Exchange
Welcome to the TDR Exchange!
This site is intended to facilitate the purchase and sale of Transferable Development Rights in King County, and is for use by and between TDR certificate holders (owners) and potential buyers (often developers).
NOTE TO SEATTLE TDR PARTICIPANTS: if you are interested in acquiring and using King County TDRs in the City of Seattle, please contact TDR Program staff before registering for the Exchange.
If you are interested in following market activity or reviewing listing, but do not intend to participate in purchase and sale of TDRs in King County, please do not register, but please do contact a TDR Program staff member directly with your inquiry.
Follow the menu items on the left sidebar to navigate the site. All users can see general information about TDR for sale and wanted listings. Registered users can post listings, see additional details about each listing, and contact buyers or sellers directly regarding purchase or sale of TDRs.
The following terms and conditions apply to the TDR Exchange site:
All activity on this site, including but not limited to registration information, for sale and wanted postings, and offers will be available for King County TDR program staff to review.
We will not share any of your personal information with anyone other than King County TDR staff.
King County TDR Program staff reserve the right to delete user accounts, individual postings, or any other inappropriate content.
Transfer of Development Rights
Deputy director, how transferring development rights works.
Zoning establishes density standards for sites. This program allows the increase of permitted density at specific sites in approved areas.
The City of Sammamish's Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program allows landowners to sell development rights from their land (a "sending site") to a developer. The developer then can use these rights to increase density on their project property (a "receiving site").
In exchange for selling its development rights, a sending site property will have a conservation easement placed on it. The conservation easement ensures that the land will be preserved for the public benefit. The receiving site gains the ability to increase density beyond what would otherwise be allowed.
Transferring development rights encourages development in targeted areas while preserving other areas.
Sammamish has three distinct TDR programs
- An Interlocal TDR Program with King County
- An in-city TDR program
- A Town Center D-Zone program
King County Interlocal TDR Program
This program authorizes the sale of 75 TDR credits. Credits come from unincorporated King County (the "emerald necklace"). They can be applied to the Sammamish Town Center subarea's A, B, and C zones.
In-City TDR Program
This program authorizes the sale of TDR credits from specific areas of the city to the Sammamish Town Center subarea's B and C zones. These areas include:
- the Thompson or Inglewood subbasins,
- erosion hazards special district overlay, or
- the wetland management areas special district overlay.
Town Center D-Zone Program
This program authorizes the City of Sammamish to sell 240 TDR credits from the Town Center D-zone. They can be sold to developments in the Town Center A-Zone.
Use of Development Rights within the Town Center
The first 20 development rights used for additional development capacity in the Town Center must be purchased through the King County program. This is pursuant to Section D-II of the King County Interlocal agreement (available below).
As of July 2017, those 20 development rights have been purchased but not yet used. Until they are used, development rights from other programs may be purchased but not used for Town Center development projects.
- Transfer of Development Rights Guide
- February 13, 2017
- July 12, 2022
- September 1, 2022
Transfer of Development Rights Maps
Farmland is a precious and disappearing resource. King County has led the way in developing a Farmland Preservation Program and Transfer of Development Rights Program that enable the preservation of farmland. Similarly, private non-profits preserve farmland and offer services that can aid in keeping farmland in production. Find information below about how to work with private conservation organizations and public agencies to preserve your farmland for future generations.
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Farmland Preservation Programs and Farmland Trusts
King County Farmland Preservation Program (FPP) has protected nearly 14,000 acres of farmland in King County since 1979. Benefits to farmers are a long-term farmable land base at a more affordable rate for lease or sale. The program is voluntary and allows private property owners to sell their development rights on high quality farmland to King County. In selling the development rights to their property, owners allow restrictive covenants to be placed on it which limit the property's use and development to agriculture or open space uses. This helps to keep farmland affordable and in farming. Contact the program if you are interested in selling development rights or accessing land.
King County Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program is a voluntary, incentive-based, and market-driven approach to preserve farmland. However, development rights from farmland protected by TDR are transferred rather than being extinguished. After farmland is permanently protected and Transferable Development Rights are "created," developers in urban areas can buy the TDRs and apply them to projects for bonus density of their projects. Proceeds from the sale of TDRs to developers are then used to protect more land. An agreement between King County and Seattle provides an excellent example of how TDR can protect farmland: recent TDR sales to South Lake Union development projects have resulted in more than $3 million of revenue which is being used to preserve additional King County farmland through the King County Farmland Preservation Program.
American Farmland Trust works locally and nationally to save farm and ranch land by advocating for farmland protection, promoting sound farming practices, and working to keep farmers on the land.
PCC Farmland Trust is a nonprofit land trust that protects and stewards threatened farmland in Washington. They work to keep land in production by making it accessible to future generations of farmers. Learn more about how they conserve farmland or check out their farmland matching project Farm to Farmer .
Finding Farmland: A Farmer's Guide to Working with Land Trusts is published by the National Young Farmers Coalition. The guide gives an introduction to land trusts, explains how these groups can be powerful partners in a farmer’s search for affordable farmland, and provides detailed information about the process of working with a land trust.
- The Washington State Office of Farmland Preservation has produced a workbook to assist in Planning the Future of Your Farm . The workbook provides guidance and resources to families that want to keep their farmland in production and/or in the family as it passes to the next generation.
- Farm Transfer and Estate Planning Fact Sheet
- Farm Transfer and Business Succession Presentation
- Finding the Next Generation for Your Farm
- Farm Transfer and Estate Planning Webinar, AFT and Land for Good
- Fundamental Considerations in Family Farm Transfer Planning
Vermont Land Trust: Access to Affordable Farmland
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Glossary of TDR Terms
- Sustainable building
- Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)
Transfer of Development Rights
- Development Right
- Sending Site
- Receiving Site
- Qualified Sending Site
- Certified TDRs
- Conservation Easement
- TDR Banking
- Extinguishing Development Rights
Some of the more common rights include ownership of any mineral deposits under the land, or the timber growing on the land. Owning a development right means that you own the right to build a structure on the parcel. Development rights may be voluntarily separated and transferred from the land. The number of development rights a parcel has depends on zoning, acreage, and existing development. The number of rights available for transfer may differ (see King County TDR Code and sending site information .)
The sending site is the parcel of land from which development rights will be transferred. After transferring the development rights from the sending parcel, future development is limited according to the terms of the conservation easement which is placed over the sending site at the time of transfer. King County Code outlines the specific eligibility criteria for sending sites, but generally sending sites are rural parcels providing productive agricultural or forestry values, critical wildlife habitat or other public benefits such as open space, regional trail connectors. Urban parcels can send development rights if the are urban separators zoned R-1 or land purchased as urban open space using Conservation Futures Tax funding.
Receiving sites are sites to which development rights are transferred. Typically, these are parcels of land in urban areas where the existing services and infrastructure can accommodate additional growth. Development rights that are "sent" off of a sending site are placed on a receiving site. Landowners may place development rights onto a receiving site either by transferring them from a qualifying parcel they own, or by purchasing the development rights from a sending site landowner with certified TDRs , or purchasing them from the King County TDR Bank . Receiving site landowners may develop the receiving site at a higher density than is otherwise allowed by the base zoning. For more information about receiving sites, see receiving site information and King County Code .
Qualified sending site
A property may be qualified as a sending site by successful completion of the TDR application process, but prior to signing and placement of a conservation easement. The TDRs do not become a tradable commodity until a conservation easement has been recorded and the TDRs have been concurrently "certified".
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After going through the enrollment process, the final step is to "certify" the TDRs at which point the TDRs become tradable commodity. At the same time TDRs are certified, a conservation easement is placed over the sending site.
A transferable development right removed from a sending site within one of the following rural zones: RA-2.5, RA-5, RA-10, RA-20, A, F.
A transferable development right removed from a sending site in the R-1, R-4, R-6, R-8, R-12, R-18, R-24, or R-48* zones.
Conservation easements come in many different forms and the specific conditions may vary depending on the purpose of the easement. Generally speaking, a conservation easement is a record on the property title that permanently restricts some or all future development. Frequently landowners will retain one development right in order to build a single-family residence on the land. While land covered by a conservation easement restricts certain types of land-use, the land itself remains in private ownership. Depending on the criteria used to qualify a sending site, a range of uses may be permitted under the conservation easement, such as agricultural, forestry, or recreational uses. To ensure compliance with the terms of a conservation easement, all easements have a provision allowing King County staff to access the property after giving advance notice to the landowner.
Density is the number of dwelling units (DUs) per acre. Existing density is calculated based on acreage and existing development. Potential density - based on acreage and zoning - predicts the number of dwelling units that could be placed on a given parcel.
If someone purchases development rights from a sending site but doesn't use them right away on a receiving site, the person is said to be "banking" the development rights. The sending site property owner might also bank development rights by separating the rights from the parcel and placing a conservation easement on the land. The property owner would then have a certificate for the number of development rights allowed that could be sold or used on a receiving site. Under some circumstances, the King County TDR Bank purchases development rights and holds the TDRs for later sale owners of qualified receiving sites.
Extinguishing development rights
When someone uses a development right to build a dwelling unit on a qualified receiving site, the development right is "extinguished." After extinguishment, the TDR cannot be used again in any other location for any purpose.
For questions about the TDR Program, please contact Nicholas Bratton , TDR Program Manager, or Anne-Gigi Chan , Land Conservation Project Manager, King County WLRD Rural and Regional Services Section .
- Sustainable Building
- Agriculture Topics
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Transfer Development Right Program Sites
Transfers of development rights
- Housing Market Condition: Strong Markets
- Administering Agency: Department of Housing and/or Community Development , Department of Planning
Transfers of development rights (TDR) programs are voluntary programs that allow the owner of one property (the “sending site”) to transfer its development rights to the owner of a second property (the “receiving site”).
While a TDR program can be used to preserve affordable housing, the tool is most commonly used in conservation efforts as a mechanism for the owners of environmentally sensitive areas or open spaces to offset losses imposed by preserving those areas in their current form. The development rights are then redirected to an area that has been determined to be more appropriate for growth.
Some cities, towns, and counties use TDRs to encourage the preservation of affordable housing developments and generate revenue to support their continued operations. In this context, the sending site—an existing affordable housing development—sells its unused development capacity to a receiving site. The sale preserves the current use of affordable housing and raises funds that can be reinvested in the development to help preserve it for the long-term. The owner of the receiving site may then build at a higher density or building height than would ordinarily be allowed by the underlying zoning code A set of local codes that dictates use and development of property. It establishes what type of developments --commercial, residential, industrial, etc.-- are allowed to be built on specific areas, and lays out the building standards for each area such as minimum lot sizes, maximum height, setbacks, and yard sizes. .
TDR programs are most likely to be effective in areas where there is strong demand for additional density on potential receiving sites. In some cases, the municipality managing the TDR program plays an interim role by purchasing development rights from sending sites and holding them for a future buyer in a TDR “bank.” By maintaining a TDR bank, local jurisdictions ensure that sending sites can sell their development rights when needed, even if a buyer is not immediately available.
TDR programs require careful planning and design. This section describes some of the key considerations involved in creating a TDR program.
As described above, TDR programs generally operate by allowing a sending site to transfer development credits to a receiving site. Some cities use other methods to allow the transfer of development rights. In New York City, for example, owners of adjacent lots can “merge” the lots for zoning purposes, and calculate density as an average across both sites. The owner of the underbuilt lot effectively transfers development rights, allowing the neighboring lot to be built at a higher density than ordinarily allowed. 
One of the most important steps in implementing a TDR program is developing a transparent and streamlined method for processing TDR transactions. As part of this process, local jurisdictions will need to determine whether they should establish or encourage others to establish a TDR bank to ensure the program functions smoothly. Affordable housing owners may wish to sell development rights when there are no viable receiving sites, and developers may wish to purchase excess density at times when there are no sending sites. TDR banks help to address this mismatch and promote ongoing liquidity by buying and holding development rights as needed until there is a viable buyer. A TDR bank can be complex to administer, however, and local jurisdictions may choose to work with a local nonprofit partner that can function as a manager of the bank. King County, Washington is a prominent example of a jurisdiction with a TDR bank. ( See local example in the Related Resources section below.)
Depending on local affordable housing preservation goals, some cities define potential sending sites broadly, to include a diverse set of affordable developments (e.g., apartment buildings, mobile home parks, single-room occupancies, etc.) or historic buildings. Others opt to limit eligibility in order to promote preservation of affordable housing that serves a particular population (e.g., extremely low-income households) or is located in a particular part of town (e.g., affordable rentals in designated high-cost or gentrifying areas).
Jurisdictions also identify and approve receiving sites—for example, limiting eligibility to purchase development rights to residential projects in areas where the city wishes to promote growth and where excess density can easily be accommodated. Eligible receiving zones may be established in advance of any development applications, allowing developers who purchase development rights through a TDR program to build at higher densities in these areas—perhaps up to a cap set by local ordinance A law adopted by a local government pertaining to an issue within its legal power. – on an “as-of-right basis” (e.g., without the need for additional approvals or amendments). Alternatively, some cities, towns, and counties approve receiving sites on an “as-of-right basis” (e.g., without the need for additional approvals or amendments). Alternatively, some cities, towns, and counties approve receiving sites on a case-by-case basis, as developers request permission to build at higher density than would ordinarily be allowed based on their purchase of transferred development rights. This approach allows for greater flexibility, but provides less transparency and predictability in the development process. Cities, towns, and counties may also use a hybrid of the two approaches, establishing an as-of-right receiving area, but also accepting requests for using the TDRs in other areas on a case-by-case basis.  These sites need not be contiguous (although some jurisdictions limit their use by requiring contiguity), and may even be located on opposite sides of town.
In addition to local programs, some communities have established regional TDR programs that allow development rights to be sold across jurisdictions. This approach is most likely to be feasible in areas that have a regional land use agency. For example, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a bi-state regional environmental planning agency with jurisdiction in Nevada and California, allows for the transfer of density across state lines in the area around Lake Tahoe. Development is often spread unevenly across metropolitan areas, with some areas having higher concentrations of affordable housing than others. Regional programs help to address some of this imbalance by providing a mechanism to share resources across jurisdictions. Regional programs may also be a productive way for smaller localities or neighboring localities with very different property markets to work collaboratively to address asymmetries in the development of affordable housing regionally.
In some cases, the neighbors of receiving sites may make due process claims, challenging the additional development capacity conferred by TDRs. This is particularly the case when the TDR results in development that does not align with the community’s comprehensive plan. Cities, towns and counties should establish formal processes for notifying neighbors of an upcoming TDR transaction and filing an objection.
Affordability and targeting
Proceeds from the sale of development rights at affordable housing developments can be reinvested in those properties, helping to cover the cost of meeting accrued capital needs and ongoing operations and ensure the properties’ viability over the long term. As a result, owners of “sending” sites (buildings that are preserved through the sale of development rights) should be expected to maintain affordability for a defined period. It is good practice for cities, towns, and counties to set standards for the duration of affordability to be maintained. Some cities, towns, and counties also require the “receiving” site to set aside a portion of the added density to serve low- or moderate-income households. Expectations for the share of units to be reserved at receiving sites, the income level(s) targeted, and the affordability period should all be clearly spelled out to ensure transparency and predictability in the development process.
In places where development rights are particularly valuable, the proceeds may exceed the amounts needed to preserve the affordability of property on the sending site, in which cases communities will want to set limits on how the proceeds can be used. In New York City, for example, the Housing Preservation Department requires that nonprofit owners of sending sites use the proceeds to support permanent affordability, allows the owners a development fee, and requires the remainder to be used as equity in other affordable housing deals.
Interaction with other programs.
Cities, towns, and counties interested in creating a TDR program should be mindful of how TDRs might interact with other existing affordable housing programs. For example, many communities that have adopted an inclusionary zoning Regulation or incentive to include units within a development for low- and moderate-income families. Also referred to as inclusionary housing. policy provide density bonus A zoning exception granted by a municipality to allow for more housing unit to be built on a given site, such as increase in dwelling units per acre, floor area ratio, or height. It is often granted to buildings that accomodate a fair share of affordable units for working families. es in exchange for the inclusion of affordable units in market-rate developments. TDR program guidelines should specify the density allowances and affordability obligations for the (likely limited) subset of properties that qualify for both programs.
The TDR program in Arlington County, VA is structured to achieve two goals: (1) preserving the long-term affordability of historically valuable garden apartments, and (2) shifting excess density to parts of town where the County is aiming to channel development. The garden apartments are the “sending” sites, and participating owners commit to preserve the existing buildings, renovate units, and keep them as affordable for at least 30 years. Eligible receiving sites are along corridors and in neighborhoods that have been targeted for redevelopment, as well as areas that can accommodate additional height. Learn more about the TDR program in Arlington County, VA .
King County, Washington’s TDR bank streamlines density transfers throughout the greater Seattle area. The TDR bank may purchase development rights from qualified sending sites at a price up to the fair market value of the land, while individual buyers and sellers can use an online TDR exchange to negotiate their own prices. In 2013, King County and the City of Seattle entered into a regional partnership that facilitates the transfer of development rights from agricultural areas in the county to three neighborhoods in downtown Seattle: South Lake Union, Denny Triangle, and the city’s Commercial Core. The city agreed to accept 800 credits, enabling the county to preserve farm and forest land. In South Lake Union, developers of residential projects above 85 feet can receive up to 40 percent of the additional density needed through the purchase of TDR credits. The remaining additional height/density can be achieved through a developer payment to the city, which is used to support affordable housing activities. Learn more about the TDR program in King Country, Washington.
- Smart Growth / Smart Energy Toolkit Bylaw: Transfer of Development Rights , Commonwealth of Massachusetts – While targeted at towns in Massachusetts, this model bylaw contains useful context on the purpose and potential of TDR programs, as well as language that can be incorporated into a TDR policy.
- Transfer of Development Rights Programs: Using the Market for Compensation and Preservation , Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning – This brief describes key advantages and challenges for local communities seeking to implement TDR programs, as well as tips for building markets around programs.
- Unlocking the Right to Build: Designing a More Flexible System for Transferring Development Rights , Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy at New York University (March 2014) – This report reviews current TDR policies in New York City, and explores strategies for reforming the current system to increase options for transferring development rights to promote development of affordable housing.
- Transfer of Development Rights Turns 40 , American Planning Association Planning & Environment Law (June 2007) – This article provides an overview of TDR programs, including factors that will impact success at the sending and receiving sites. The article includes a description of innovative TDR techniques and how they are being used in local communities.
- Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Case Study , Massachusetts Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit – Provides case studies on the TDR program in Falmouth, MA, Montgomery County, MD, and Seattle, WA.
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