Health Advice



Worried about housing shortages and soaring prices? Your community’s zoning laws could be part of the problem

Jessica Trounstine, Vanderbilt University, The Conversation on

Published in Health & Fitness

You can permit duplexes but also be attentive to floor-area ratios and minimum lot sizes at the same time. And addressing all of these different regulatory restrictions in some way can expand opportunity in the housing market. There is also evidence that something happening in California called “the builders remedy” is working to increase development. It allows developers to overrule, essentially, local regulations because of state-level policy.

Some of my work also shows that lawsuits can be effective at addressing segregation patterns and long-standing regulatory constriction in the housing market.

How do zoning and land-use decisions affect the environment?

Jessica Trounstine: Sprawl, or expanding development farther and farther away from population density, is in itself harmful to the environment. It causes long commutes and changes the built environment in ways that can be costly for the environment. Increasing density, pulling people back toward the center, is an environmentally friendly kind of policy.

What is the connection between zoning reforms and gentrification?

Jessica Trounstine: It is true, historically, that when neighborhoods witness economic and racial transition, marginalized communities are harmed in the process. So, one response to the concerns about gentrification is to ensure that marginalized communities are at the table and participating in the conversations about the built environment and about development.

What’s not clear in the gentrification research more generally is whether new development causes gentrification. And so before we limit development in order to prevent gentrification, we need more research and a better understanding of the interaction between those two mechanisms.


Watch the full interview to hear more.

SciLine is a free service based at the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science that helps journalists include scientific evidence and experts in their news stories.

This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit, independent news organization bringing you facts and trustworthy analysis to help you make sense of our complex world. It was written by: Jessica Trounstine, Vanderbilt University

Read more:
Higher density living is changing the way neighbouring works in Canada

I studied 1 million home sales in metro Atlanta and found that Black families are being squeezed out of homeownership by corporate investors

Affordable housing in the US is increasingly scarce, making renters ask: Where do we go?

Jessica Trounstine receives funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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