Yet another line of argument has focused on local growth controls, which are frequently placed near the top of the list of reasons for the shortage of affordable housing in California. According to this argument, a lack of enthusiasm for housing in California cities—and in some cases, outright hostility to multifamily or “affordable” developments—goes a long way toward explaining the state’s lagging housing production. Paul Lewis and Max Neiman address this argument head-on by studying which communities enact growth restrictions and why. They find that relatively few cities across the state have passed strict controls on housing development and that cities’ motives in managing residential growth do not appear to reflect simple elitism or civic selfishness. The authors conclude that growth controls may constrain some homebuilding but that broader market forces and state policies probably do more to explain California’s housing costs and slow rate of production.
Public Policy Institute of California