Sunday, April 27, 2014

Been, Madar, & McDonnell on Urban Land‐Use Regulation: Are Homevoters Overtaking the Growth Machine?

Vicki Been (NYU), Josiah Madar (NYU), and Simon Thomas McDonnell (NYU) have published an intriguing new article, Urban Land‐Use Regulation: Are Homevoters Overtaking the Growth Machine?, in the latest issue of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.  Here is the abstract:

The leading theory about urban land-use regulation argues that city zoning officials are full partners in the business and real estate elite's “growth machine.” Suburban land-use officials, in contrast, are thought to cater to the interests of the majority of their electorate—“homevoters.” A unique database regarding over 200,000 lots that the New York City Planning Commission considered for rezoning between 2002 and 2009 allows us to test various hypotheses suggested by these competing theories of land-use regulation. Our analysis reveals that homevoters are more powerful in urban politics than scholars, policymakers, and judges have assumed.

It is a definite "must read" for land use law folks.  Here is one more teaser from the conclusion:

Our results provide significant evidence that the land-use politics of large cities are not as different from those of the suburbs as theorists, policymakers, and judges have assumed. The fact that a city like New York, with its unusually low homeownership rate, strong real estate and business interests, and ardent embrace of the benefits of agglomeration economics, nevertheless downzoned 6 percent of its lots (and put another 15 percent in a category that likely will function as a downzoning) in less than a decade is remarkable.

Unfortunately, the article is behind a pay wall, or I'd share more in this forum.  For those with access to the Wiley database, here is the direct link.

Stephen R. Miller

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