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New Research Ties Lack of Density to Lack of Affordability in California

New research using the Terner Center California Residential Land Use Survey also connects demographic trends to housing development opposition.
September 6, 2019, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Richard Masoner

Jonathan Rothwell has published a new paper with the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley titled "Land Use Politics, Housing Costs, and Segregation in California Cities."

"Using data from a new survey of land use planners in approximately 270 California jurisdictions (the Terner Center California Residential Land Use Survey), I find that the share of land zoned for single-family housing and more restrictive minimum lot size requirements predict higher housing costs compared to other jurisdictions in the same metropolitan area," explains Rothwell in the abstract.

That's not the only finding that fits a very pro-development, and pro-density, narrative about housing affordability in the state: "Likewise, the degree of political opposition to housing development predicts higher prices, longer delays for lawful projects, and a lower likelihood of zoning reform. This opposition to development is greater in areas with a higher proportion of non-Hispanic White and highly educated residents."

And there's a racial theme that runs through the housing and development politics of the state as well. "Finally, I find that both the intensity of land use and degree of opposition to development predict a lower share of Black, Hispanic, and blue-collar workers living in the area, compared to jurisdictions in the same metropolitan area," writes Rothwell.

The entire paper is available to read online.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, September 5, 2019 in Terner Center for Housing Innovation
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