Jurisdictional Size and Residential Development: Are Large-Scale Local Governments More Receptive to Multifamily Housing?



In the United States, particularly in high-cost urban areas, local resistance to multifamily housing development has been widely noted. In many metropolitan areas, legal authority over land-use regulation is assigned to jurisdictions that often are very small, and some scholars argue that this small-scale local control institutionalizes neighborhood-level opposition to new construction. Using census tracts as units of analysis, we assess the relationship between the population size of the city, county, or township that regulates a tract’s land use and the change in multifamily units between two recent waves of the American Community Survey (2008–2012 and 2014–2018). Results of regression analysis indicate that larger jurisdictional population size is indeed associated with increased multifamily construction. However, the relationship applies only for jurisdictions with populations exceeding 100,000 and decays at jurisdictional populations of more than 1 million. This nonlinearity may reflect quasi-monopolistic land-use control in the largest jurisdictions.
Date made available2021
Publisherfigshare SAGE Publications

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