The Urban Development Plan of the city of Ensenada, México (UDPE) states four major strategic projects, one of which mandates to “Acquire and enable new land reserves and expand opportunities for economic and social development.” This is of vital importance given the large number of vacant lots that perforates the urban surface in contrast to the physical limitations of growth demarcated by hill areas of a steep slope, which forces a sustainable use of the land. These are important growth challenges, affecting aspects such as the real estate market, in particular, that related to industrial activities, which has not matured due to outdated planning practice, resulting in industrial sprawl. This paper shows an institutional effort to analyze the UDPE from a Complex Systems approach with an Agent-Based Model, adapting Peter Allen’s concept of Structural Attractor. This attraction results from an agglomeration of UDPE’s regulatory attributes and real estate investor’s land-acquisition criteria that affects the spatial behavior of vacant land that is attractive for industrial activity. Unlike physical land uses, these attractive zones emerge, grow, move, diminish, and emerge again over time in the form of Attractive Land Footprints. Understanding these phenomena is vital for local policymakers. The findings indicate that the current Urban Plan is ill-suited regarding current industry development expectations. The model also showed unexpected roles played by population density, road network, and residential land use in Attractive Land Footprint dynamics, acting as a thought-provoking process for policymakers and real estate investors, as it helped them to understand Ensenada’s industry phenomena.
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