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

An aerial view of Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

Plan to Potentially Remove Downtown Milwaukee’s Interstate Faces Public Scrutiny

The public is weighing in on a suite of options for repairing, replacing, or removing Interstate 794 in downtown Milwaukee.

August 27, 2023 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Portland Bus Lane

‘Forward Together’ Bus System Redesign Rolling Out in Portland

Portland is redesigning its bus system to respond to the changing patterns of the post-pandemic world—with twin goals of increasing ridership and improving equity.

August 30, 2023 - Mass Transit

Conceptual rendering of Rikers Island redevelopment as renewable energy facility

Can New York City Go Green Without Renewable Rikers?

New York City’s bold proposal to close the jail on Rikers Island and replace it with green infrastructure is in jeopardy. Will this compromise the city’s ambitious climate goals?

August 24, 2023 - Mark McNulty

A rendering of the Utah City master planned, mixed-use development.

700-Acre Master-Planned Community Planned in Utah

A massive development plan is taking shape for lakefront property in Vineyard, Utah—on the site of a former U.S. Steel Geneva Works facility.

7 hours ago - Daily Herald

A line of cars wait at the drive-thru window of a starbucks.

More Cities Ponder the End of Drive-Thrus

Drive-thru fast food restaurants might be a staple of American life, but several U.S. cities are actively considering prohibiting the development of new drive-thrus for the benefit of traffic safety, air quality, and congestion.

August 31 - The Denver Post

Air pollution is visible in the air around high-rise buildings in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Air Pollution World’s Worst Public Health Threat, Report Says

Air pollution is more likely to take years life off the lifespan of the average human than any other external factor, according to a recent report out of the University of Chicago.

August 31 -