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Assessing Feasibility Studies for Inclusionary Zoning

Cities use the studies to inform decisions about inclusionary housing programs. But a closer look shows that there is great variation in the methods and metrics, with no one correct approach for every situation.
January 6, 2019, 9am PST | Camille Fink
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This past summer, the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, the Grounded Solutions Network, and the Lincoln Land Institute convened a group of experts to consider the economic feasibility studies cities conduct for inclusionary zoning — the incentives given to developers to include affordable housing as part of market-rate new developments. A recently released report and summary discuss the findings of this expert discussion.

Inclusionary zoning policies can be controversial, and feasibility studies help decision makers achieve affordable housing policy goals without hindering development. "But no agreed-upon set of professional best practices exists for these studies, and there is criticism that the studies can be expensive, time-intensive, and don’t necessarily capture the ‘real-time’ insights into market conditions that cities need for optimal decision-making."

Participants agreed that methodologies and metrics will vary depending on the circumstances. In addition, changes over time as well as across neighborhoods in a city will necessitate different inputs, assumptions, and analyses. The consensus was also that transparency should be paramount, so other researchers can reproduce studies, and that policymakers need to better understand the studies’ limitations and role in the policy process. 

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Published on Friday, December 21, 2018 in Terner Center for Housing Innovation
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