This Week in Land-Use Regulation, August 22nd

This Week in Land-Use Regulation, August 22nd

News and Commentary

As rents continue to rise in most cities, average rents in Seatle have dipped by nearly 3 percent. That may not sound like much, but considering rents have increased 48 percent over the last five years, those few percentage points of reversal (indeed, a decline in general) are welcome news. The city’s economic and population growth have remained strong; burgeoning housing supply is the cause.

Andrew Yang joins the chorus of Democratic candidates calling for zoning liberalization.  While it is encouraging that Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and Yang are lending their credibility to reform, the federal government lacks plausible levers to bring about change on its own.

In the past month, Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution had a couple of interesting posts on housing.  First, he demonstrates that housing supply is less elastic compared to in the past (an increase in price is now less prone to induce an increase of supply). Zoning regulations are the most likely culprit.  Second, in a post that would make Henry George proud, he argues that property owners are parasitizing many of the gains earned by college-educated workers.  While usually housing price mirror building costs, zoning regulations mean that landlords reap much of the benefit from the population’s human capital investments.

A victory in Denver. The owner of an exotically designed local diner has fought off a destructive effort to foist historical preservation status upon his property.


New Research:

Raj Chetty et al. have a fascinating new paper examining the role of moving frictions in driving income segregation. Taking Section 8 applicants, they perform a randomized control trial to show that providing counseling and some very limited financial support massively encourages relocation to more integrated neighborhoods that display higher levels of social mobility. With the intervention, 54% choose to relocate to these neighborhoods, versus 14% relocating without the intervention. Instead of preferences or social ties keeping people bound to low mobility regions, their findings suggest that barriers to movement can have significant consequences.


In recent years, people have worried that condominiums encourage upper-income people to move into central cities. Seeking to abate gentrification, some cities have made it harder to build condos. Using those municipal laws as natural experiments, the authors of this study show condominium development to have no association with gentrification.

I didn't find this helpful.This was helpful. Please let us know if you found this article helpful.
By |2019-08-23T09:45:51-07:00August 22nd, 2019|Blog, Land Use Regulation|