Learning from the Humble Trailer Park
"Trailer parks remain one of the last forms of housing in US cities provided by the market explicitly for low-income residents," writes Nolan Gray. "Better still, they offer a working example of traditional urban design elements and private governance."
According to Gray, trailer parks are an outlier in the U.S. real estate market. But there very existence offers a lot of instruction about how land use regulation and market forces work. Gray writes: "where they exist, [trailer parks] are often subject to uniquely liberal land-use regulation, with minimal setbacks, fewer parking requirements, and tiny minimum lot sizes. The result is that many trailer parks have relatively high population densities.
By combining these liberal land-use regulations with narrow streets shared by all users, we ironically find in many trailer parks a kind of traditional urban design more common in European and Japanese cities. With functional urban densities and traditional urban design, the only thing missing in most trailer parks is a natural mixture of commercial and industrial uses.
Gray concludes the article by proposing three key lessons to be learned from trailer parks.