Density Bonuses

A density bonus is a zoning incentive that allows developers to build more units or a larger building than would typically be allowed in exchange for providing a community benefit, such as affordable housing.

For example, in California, a density bonus means an increase of at least 20% over the maximum allowable residential density under the applicable zoning ordinance. This concept is often tied to the need for affordable housing in urban areas, where high land costs and limited availability make it challenging to provide housing for individuals and families with lower incomes. The Density Bonus Program in various regions, such as Los Angeles, is thus a local incentive program designed to encourage the production of on-site affordable housing in neighborhoods where it is needed most. (Abbott & Kinderman, 2009)

The concept of density bonuses is linked to the broader issue of zoning for higher residential density. Zoning changes that allow for higher residential density, such as upzoning and the provision of density bonuses, are important tools for addressing housing affordability and supply challenges in many urban areas. By allowing for the construction of more housing units on a given piece of land, density bonuses can help increase the overall supply of housing. (Local Housing Solutions, 2023)

By allowing for increased residential density in exchange for the provision of community benefits, such as affordable housing, density bonuses can play a significant role in addressing housing affordability and supply challenges in urban areas.

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