Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Science, Technology and Society Program


Ashton Wesner

Second Advisor

Ben Lisle


Infill development has become a contested term regarding California’s ‌perpetual housing crisis, the state’s fight against the ever-important climate emergency, and its efforts toward improving large social injustices. To define the contested term, infill development is the development or redevelopment of land that has been underutilized, in terms of being overlooked, abandoned, or left vacant, compared to the parcels surrounding the property, both directly abutting and within the more general locality. Regarding this concept and its trending nature, state and local governmental agencies, residential real estate developers, researchers, activist groups, and residents have each created their own narratives, taking up strong pro- or anti-infill development stances. Some of these actors have proven infill to be a successful concept in some instances, but there are numerous barriers and outcome-related concerns that complicate the matter and often produce adverse effects. This thesis examines the actors, published literature, and outcomes pertaining to California's infill movement on a state-wide scale before closely analyzing the San Francisco Bay Area. The processes and outcomes of infill development are inherently local and therefore much more nuanced than various actors proclaim them to be. Infill development is certainly not a panacea, nor is it an unjust and wholly adverse process. Thus, infill should be classified solely as another strategy of development that, when used properly, can be an effective tool in improving California’s many critical situations.


Infill development, California, housing crisis, environmental crisis, social justice