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Appendix A: The Land Supply Elasticity of Chinese Cities
Employing Geography Information System (GIS), we precisely calculated exogenously undevelopable land within 30 kilometer radii from the central point of each city. Eliminating area lost to steep slope, bodies of water, territory boundaries, and special district boundaries which prohibit urban sprawl, we built a comprehensive measurement of urban land flexibility for all major Chinese cities.
Steep slope significantly constrains residential development. Utilizing GIS software, we calculated areas exhibiting slope over 10% within 30km meter radii of each city’s central point. Based on national contour lines map, we generated a national-wide slope map at a resolution of 1000 by 1000 meters. The data source of the contour lines map is the “1:1 Million Topographic Map of China” compiled by the National Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (NBSM, PRC). Considering that most residential construction projects take more than 1 square kilometer of land and small pieces of flat land within mountain area are expensive to develop, we choose 1000-meter resolution as the grid size for calculating slope.
There are several classifications regarding slope and urban construction suitability, and we set slope over 10% as unsuitable for urban housing development. The most popular standard for slope and urban construction suitability is set by Urban Planning Theory (third edition), which is the national textbook for urban planning majors. In this textbook, slopes between 0.3% -10% are considered to be suitable for residential land use. However, according to the Code for Vertical Planning on Urban Field published in 1999, the maximum slope allowed to be used for residential land use is 25% (P.6). The threshold is increased to cover most land in China56. Considering construction and maintenance costs will increase significantly for residential development on land with slope over 8%, and most Chinese cities are built upon plains, we choose to use the general guideline of slope below 10% instead of the maximum limit of 25% as the threshold for land considered suitable for housing development.
Residential development is also constrained by bodies of water, country territory boundaries, and special district administration boundaries. For example, Shenzhen housing development cannot cross the border with Hong Kong. By intersecting the polygon of coastline, inner water body, country territory boundary and special district administration boundary within the 30 km radii circle of each city, we can eliminate all undevelopable area caused by these factors. Data for coastline, territory boundaries and special district boundaries comes from the “Administrative Division Map of China” compiled by China Cartographic Publishing House and ESRI. Data for inner bodies of water comes from the hydro-graphic map, “1:1 Million Topographic Map of China” compiled by the National Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (NBSM, PRC).
Figure A.1 below illustrates the city-specific land supply elasticity index for 129 Chinese cities.