The Growth of Control? Changes in Local Land-Use Regulation in Major U.S. Metropolitan Areas From 1994 to 2003

Rolf Pendall, Jake Wegmann, Jonathan Martin, Dehui Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Amid concerns that increasingly stringent local land-use regulations are constraining housing development across the United States, there is a need for an empirical investigation into whether, how, and where such regulations are being enacted. In this article, we report the results of a nationwide (n = 728 jurisdictions, representing almost a quarter of the U.S. population) survey of local land-use regulation, unprecedented for having been conducted at two distinct points in time (1994 and 2003). Using descriptive statistics and logistic modeling, we arrive at four main findings. First, we find that regulations are in flux to an underappreciated degree, being frequently enacted but also often abandoned. Second, we find a strong regional orientation to the use of certain regulatory tools. Third, we find more evidence in support of land-use regulations being used to solve local problems than to intentionally exclude new residents. Finally, we find that high levels of education are frequently associated with the use of tools that have a redistributive or proaffordable housing intent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-919
Number of pages19
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2018
Externally publishedYes



  • growth management
  • land-use zoning
  • local
  • municipalities
  • regulation
  • smart growth
  • state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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