The spatio-temporal impacts of demolition land use policy and crime in a shrinking city

Amy E. Frazier, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, Jason Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Land use change, in the form of urbanization, is one of the most significant forms of global change, and most cities are experiencing a rapid increase in population and infrastructure growth. However, a subset of cities is experiencing a decline in population, which often manifests in the abandonment of residential structures. These vacant and abandoned structures pose a land use challenge to urban planners, and a key question has been how to manage these properties. Often times land use management of these structures takes the form of demolition, but the elimination of infrastructures and can have unknown and sometimes unintended effects on the human-environment interactions in urban areas. This paper examines the association between demolitions and crime, a human-environment interaction that is fostered by vacant and abandoned properties, through a comparative statistical analysis. A cluster analysis is performed to identify high and low hot spots of demolition and crime activity, specifically assault, drug arrests, and prostitution, over a 5-year period. Results show that there is an association between the area targeted for significant demolition activity and the migration of spatial patterns of certain crimes. The direction of crime movement toward the edges of the city limits and in the direction of the first ring suburbs highlights the importance of regional planning when implementing land use policies for smart decline in shrinking cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Buffalo
  • Cluster analysis
  • Crime
  • Demolition
  • Human-environment interactions
  • Policy
  • Regional planning
  • Shrinking cities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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