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Land Readjustment in Tlalnepanlta | A Democratic Mechanism for Redensification in Mexico City

Mexico’s national authorities are rethinking their housing policy frameworks, so as to connect questions of housing supply and affordability to location as well as to the larger goals of densification, job creation, and economic growth. In already urban deindustrializing areas of Mexico City such as Tlalnepantla, how does INFONAVIT (Mexico's National Hosuing Authority) begin to address such issues and acheive its objectives. It is here that land resdjustment becomes a viable mechanism in issues of redensification of urban areas.

The land readjustment process consists of a group of lot owners who pool their land together for some greater benefit, accompanied by the adjusted redistribution of the remaining space to match each participant’s contribution. The process has been used to regularize plot shapes, modernize the urban fabric by providing infrastructure. Alternatively, the process can be applied to informal settlements where the residents may not have legal tenure but at least informal ownership of the plots (i.e. not a rental market). This facilitates the possible value capture of the land, particularly when the informal settlement is located in a prime real estate location. The construction of dense buildings may create more value, provided that each participant is content with receiving a unit in a vertical building. Land readjustments also ensure that the original residents stay in the neighborhood and are not displaced by expensive developments.

Land readjustment is known as “Polígonos de Actuación Concertada“ (PACs) in Mexico. The few instances of completed PACs in Mexico are limited to the Federal District, where the local Secretary of Urban Development and Housing, Seduvi, approves such projects. To date, PACs as a mechanism have been underutilized in DF, being applied only to projects requiring the transfer of development rights or the reparcelization of lots. These projects have typically involved 2-3 lots.

More recently, other states and municipalities have gone on to include PACs as a tool in their laws, constitutions, and urban development plans. Among them are: the State and Municipality of Chihuahua, the State of Sinaloa, the State of Nayarit, the State of Sonora, and the Municipality of Tijuana (located in the State of Baja California).
The Secretary of Social Development, SEDESOL, has been a major advocate of PACs as a land management instrument for the social benefit of all. Possible applications include environmental conservation, the production of low-income housing, the upgrading of informal settlements, the promotion of employment, and historic conservation, among others.

Done in collaboration with Jennifer Min Lee. Published in "Retrofitting the (Post)-Industrial Metropolis" - Harvard University Graduate School of Design + INFONAVIT publication.