Needed: Better Data on Local Zoning Regulations
Graham MacDonald, Solomon Greene, and Emma Nechamkin put out a call for improved data on zoning to help address the nation's ongoing housing and development challenges.
Even though there has been some promising research on local zoning and land-use regulations, most has been hampered by a lack of data. How has zoning changed? What reforms were implemented and where? How have various reforms affected housing supply, affordability, and climate change? We either don’t know or know very little because data are out of date, incomplete, or do not exist.
The best existing data sources, according to the article, "consist of two surveys of local governments in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas dated 1994 and 2003, a regulatory index derived from a survey of local governments in 2007, and some recent papers that try to approximate zoning data using court decisions or construction costs (PDF)."
MacDonald, Greene, and Nechamkin are working at the Urban Institute to fill those gaps, promising to release several projects in the coming year. One fairly recent project, published in January, is already advancing the cause by assessing, "whether we can estimate density limits in local zoning codes using property assessment data."