The idea of urban compaction has been long proposed and promoted to address the problem of urban sprawl in many American cities. However, there are still rare successful cases of such implementation in the United States. This study uses a classic gravity model, TELEM (Transpiration, Economic, and Land-Use Model) to examine to what extent a land-use or transportation policy must be regulated to make the urban compaction occur in a typical auto-dependent city—Fresno, California. Five scenarios are considered (BL, L1, L2, T1, and T2), in which the baseline (BL) is a natural growth scenario. Without any policy interventions, the city will inevitably expand outward. The L1 (high-intensity zoning) and L2 (growth boundary) results suggest that high-density zoning and growth boundary policies could make the compaction occur. The T1 (location impedance) and T2 (carbon tax) results reveal that transportation interventions would create barriers among regions/areas and therefore should be carefully used for compaction. This study not only adds to the literature on urban modeling but also contributes to the practice of smart growth or new urbanism policies for sustainability.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Planning and Policy, Sustainable Transportation and Land Use

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Urban compaction, Sustainability, Urban modeling, Land-use planning, Transportation planning


Sustainability | Transportation | Urban Studies and Planning