New Research Builds Evidence for Zoning Reform

Cityscape has published a collection of new research building support for zoning reforms as a tool for mitigating the effects of the housing affordability crisis.

2 minute read

August 29, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

In the past, scientific evidence on the effects of increased housing supply was hard to come by and the findings of the scant body of research often produced contradictory findings.

With every passing year, the number of studies on the subject of zoning reform for housing supply increases. The latest examples comes from Cityscape, a research journal published by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The most recent edition of the journal included a symposium of papers adding a pile of new research on the effects of zoning reforms.

Adam A. Milsap, writing for Forbes, provides explanations of each of these studies, describing the collection as confirmation that “that zoning changes and other land-use reforms can increase the supply of housing, help control prices, and boost local tax bases.” Among the collection, three studies focus on recent zoning reform efforts in California, including legalization of accessory dwelling units and greater enforcement of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process.  

Another study, based on previous research by Nolan Gray, focuses on reforms in Houston that reduced the minimum lot size from 5,000 square feet to as low as 1,400 square feet in some areas. The new study, by Jake Wegmann, Aabiya Noman Baqai, and Josh Conrad, “finds that this minimum lot size reform led to increased development on underused commercial and industrial land and in largely underbuilt middle-income neighborhoods,” according to Milsap.

Monday, August 28, 2023 in Forbes

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