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Process vs. Prohibition in Local Land Use Regulations

Tue, Sep 10, 2019    1pm

Process vs. Prohibition in Local Land Use Regulations: How California cities limit housing production and what the state government can do about it?

California’s residents are spending historically high sums of money on housing. Given high rents and prices, housing production is at a relative historic low. There is general agreement that local land use regulations limit new housing construction, but less agreement about exactly how. One obvious channel is prohibition: most cities do not allow more than one housing unit on the vast majority of the parcels in their jurisdictions. Planners often refer to this prohibition - a lack of developable land - when asked about slow housing production. Developers, on the other hand, point to process: even on sites where rules permit multifamily housing, rules ranging from impact fees, parking requirements and the multi-step approvals make building too expensive. We seek to disentangle the differential impacts of these two aspects of regulation using two new data sources. The Terner Center Residential Land Use Survey and the sites inventory from the housing element of cities’ general plan. We do this by modeling recently permitted housing (from 2013-2017) as a function of cities’ market demand and the two dimensions of land use regulations, process and prohibition. The results will help the state government frame its efforts to intervene in local opposition to new housing.

Paavo Monkkonen is Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and director of the Latin American Cities Initiative. Paavo researches and writes about the ways policies and markets shape urbanization and social segregation in cities around the world. His scholarship ranges from studies of large-scale national housing finance programs to local land use regulations and property rights institutions often not recognized for their importance to housing. Paavo has a PhD in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley. He was previously Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Hong Kong and visiting scholar at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.