05/23/2024 - Sea Level Rise - Student Work

Transfer of Development Rights as Climate Adaptation

Transfer of Development Rights as Climate Adaptation: A Discussion of Model Programs and Opportunities for State Involvement (PDF).

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs can be an important tool for state and local governments as part of a broader climate adaptation strategy. TDR programs come in many shapes and sizes and can be designed or adapted to fit a state or municipality’s specific design needs. TDR programs operate at the local level, establishing both a sending district and a receiving district. The properties in the sending district are eligible to sell development rights, while the properties in the receiving district are eligible to receive them. After development rights are transferred, the receiving property can be developed more than would otherwise be permitted under zoning laws, while development on the sending property is restricted relative to what would otherwise be permitted under zoning laws.

In this analysis, Naomi Jennings (HLS 2024) provides practical background knowledge for a state agency or local government interested in using TDR programs. She describes four existing TDR programs: Town of Southampton (New York), Long Island Central Pine Barrens Maritime Reserve (New York), Palm Beach County (Florida), and King County (Washington). These programs provide examples of some of the options available to governments in establishing TDR programs, including creating TDR banks, coordinating between many municipal governments and the state, pairing TDR programs with land acquisition, and using TDR programs to incentivize affordable housing development. She also discusses opportunities for state agencies to support local governments in establishing TDR programs.