The Perils of Land Use Deregulation

Land use regulation and zoning have long been core functions of local governments. Critics of local land use practices, however, assert that local regulations are too restrictive and that “exclusionary zoning” ordinances increase housing costs, reduce mobility, entrench racial segregation, prevent the poor from accessing jobs and services, and reduce economic productivity. Spurred in large part by an affordable housing crisis in popular metropolitan areas, the YIMBY (“Yes in My Backyard”) movement has urged state and even federal action to override local land use regulations that raise barriers to the construction of market-rate housing. The conventional wisdom is that local governments cannot be trusted with land use policymaking and that striking down local regulatory barriers is necessary to address a whole range of ills.

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