[We show] in our model that the primary beneficiaries of growth controls are owners of developed land, e.g., homeowners, while the primary losers are owners of undeveloped land. Since the benefits of growth controls to typically numerically superior owners of developed land are likely to be diffuse relative to the costs imposed on developers, developers are likely to have much more incentive to organize politically and thwart growth controls. Indeed, only when the costs of not having controls rises to a sufficient level will the owners of developed land effectively organize. This explains why growth controls in the 1980s and early 1990s have tended to emerge in cities and regions only after the problems associated with growth have become severe.
Robert Engle, Peter Navarro, and Richard Carson
Journal of Urban Economics