How Do Developers Respond to Land Use Regulations? An Analysis of New Housing in Los Angeles

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Taylor & Francis


There is strong evidence that land use regulations constrain housing production. We know less about how real estate developers respond to specific zoning provisions. I compare the characteristics of new multifamily housing with baseline land use regulations in two sets of rail station areas in Los Angeles. I supplement this building-scale analysis with expert interviews. I find that developers were most sensitive to density restrictions and parking requirements. The average development in the Vermont/Western area had 112% of the maximum allowable residential density and 94% of the minimum required parking. Koreatown’s average development had 99% of the maximum density and 88% of the required parking. But, there was variation by area and whether a building was affordable or market rate, apartment or condominium, and by development size. Additionally, regulatory implementation can matter as much as the written regulations themselves. I recommend that cities take an evidence-based approach to reforming regulations and implementation processes.