Specialized Governance and Regional Land-Use Outcomes: A Spatial Analysis

2019, Land Use Policy, with Aaron Deslatte & Tyler A. Scott

Full title: “Specialized Governance and Regional Land-Use Outcomes: A Spatial Analysis of Florida Community Development Districts”

Link to article


Specialized governance literature tends to approach special district differences at a surface level, rarely delving into consequential distinctions between districts types or their implications for policy outcomes. This article offers a step towards addressing these limitations by examining the land use impacts of an innovation in local government form referred to as “multipurpose development districts.” The article builds from a theory of local government formation to examine how Florida development districts – formally referred to within the state as community development districts (CDDs) – impact regional development patterns. Combining spatial data on land-cover change and CDD boundaries with nonparametric and Bayesian modeling approaches, the article provides a novel examination of CDDs’ influence on urban sprawl over a 15-year period. The results suggest that private developers’ use of development district formation to finance development infrastructure contributes to development in unincorporated areas. However, because within-district sprawl is disincentivized and overall district siting remains subject to regional planning and zoning restrictions, CDDs cluster this growth in ways which mitigate the negative effects of urban sprawl. The findings hold important implications for understanding regional growth and development processes, as well as the realization of state-level growth management policy goals.