According to its many critics, zoning bears significant responsibility for the housing crisis in America and for promoting unsustainable development patterns. Reformers argue that zoning reduces the supply of new housing and therefore drives up prices in thriving communities. Zoning also increases carbon emissions by restricting density in the urban core and promoting carbon-intensive, land-consuming, automobile-dependent sprawl in single-family suburbs. A growing chorus calls for relaxing zoning limits in order to promote growth in the urban core as a response to the twin crises of housing costs and climate change. Relaxing zoning limits will almost certainly promote growth but may not promote density. Some of the most loosely zoned cities in America are also the least dense. This symposium contribution examines the relationship between density and zoning intensity and finds that density is loosely correlated with more intensive zoning, not less. This is not a causal claim but nevertheless raises questions whether zoning deregulation will necessarily produce both growth and density.
Christopher Serkin and Kelsea Best
Growth ≠ Density: Zoning Deregulation
and the Enduring Problem of Sprawl,
50 Pepp. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol50/iss3/3