Land Use Regulation
Land use regulations affect the built environment, including the capacity for new growth, the provision of affordable housing, and quality of life measures, such as access to transportation and open space. We analyze the impact of land use regulations and regulatory choices, such as the designation of historic districts, on the amount, nature, and cost of housing. We also study the impact of historic districts on the price and supply of housing, and how transferable development rights could be used to support the production of affordable housing. In 2010, the Furman Center released the first comprehensive analysis of the effects of the city’s large-scale rezoning on New York City’s capacity for new residential construction.
Current Research Agenda
Our researchers are currently studying a variety of land use regulation issues that will help inform policymakers in making decisions about construction, housing, transportation and the environment.
Our current research projects include:
- Minimum Parking Requirements: A Continuing Role in a Dense Metropolis?
- Rezoning, Housing Capacity and Neighborhood Characteristics
- Soft Sites: Why Do Some Sites Remain Underdeveloped In Strong Markets?
- The Effect of Historic District Designation on Property Values, Building Activity, and Neighborhood Demographics
- Transferable Development Rights in New York City
- What Teardowns Tell Us About Land Value
For a list of all the Furman Center’s current research projects, download our Current Research Agenda.
Simon McDonnell is a senior policy analyst for the Office of Policy Research at the City University of New York (CUNY). In that role, he explores characteristics that influence retention and graduation rates for baccalaureate and associate level students. Simon brings his environmental and transportation background to the office expanding analyses. He graduated with a B.A. in Economics from University College Dublin (UCD) in 2000 and after a period working for Deloitte & Touche in New York, he received an M.Sc. in Environmental Economics and Policy from UCD in 2003. This research investigated the economic and environmental impacts of an environmental levy on plastic shopping bags imposed by the Irish Government. Simon graduated from UCD with a Ph.D. in transport and environmental economics and policy in early 2007.
Latest News & Events
- The Stoop
In the Path of the Storm
- The Stoop
New Report Analyzes the Market for Buying Sky in NYC
- The Stoop
#NYChousing Day 7: NYCHA Land Lease
- The Stoop
#NYChousing Day 6: Transferable Development Rights
Buying Sky: The Market for Transferable Development Rights in New York City
This policy brief analyzes development right transfers in New York City between 2003 and 2011, looking at the prices paid, number of rights transferred, location of the sending and receiving parcels, and legal mechanisms used, in order to shed light on an important but hard-to-track market. The report, “Buying Sky: The Market for Transferable Development Rights in New York City,” examines 243 arms-length transactions for which complete data is available, and finds wide variation in the price paid per square foot of development rights, even for sales within the same neighborhoods, programs, and time periods. See the press release or read the full report.
Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. October 2013.
Transferable Development Rights Programs: ‘Post’ Zoning?
Transferable Development Rights (TDR) programs allow property owners to sell unused development capacity at their property and transfer it to another site, where it is typically used to increase the permitted size of a development. In recent years, New York City has enacted programs that use TDRs in increasingly sophisticated ways. These uses share three common attributes: an increased focus on directing the location and density at sites that receive development rights; the use of TDRs as an integral component of more comprehensive rezoning initiatives; and the creation of regulatory incentives that strengthen the market for TDRs. In this essay, we conclude that TDRs in New York can no longer be understood just as a creative mechanism to soften the effect of rigid zoning restrictions, but should also be recognized as a tool land use decision makers increasingly use in place of, or in tandem with, upzonings, bonuses, and other devices for increasing density.
Vicki Been, John Infranca. December 2012.
Searching for the Right Spot: Minimum Parking Requirements and Housing Affordability in New York City
The policy brief examines New York City’s minimum residential parking requirements in communities throughout the city and explores the possible effects on housing affordability and on the city’s sustainability goals. The brief finds that the requirements may be causing developers to supply more off-street parking spaces than they expect tenants and homebuyers to demand, potentially driving up the cost of housing and promoting inefficient car ownership.
Vicki Been, Caitlyn Brazill, Josiah Madar, Simon McDonnell. March 2012.
Matching Words and Deeds? How Transit-Oriented are the Bloomberg-era Rezonings in New York City?
Anticipating that New York City will grow to more than nine million residents by 2030, the City has launched an ambitious planning agenda focused on development in neighborhoods well served by public transit. Between 2002 and 2009, New York City’s government enacted 100 significant changes to its zoning code, constituting the most significant change to the City’s land use regulations since the original version of the current zoning code was adopted in 1961. This chapter explores the cumulative impact of the individual zoning actions on residential capacity, and how the rezonings match the City’s stated development, environmental and transportation goals. The authors found that, consistent with desired development patterns, there has been a modest overall increase in residential capacity concentrated in neighborhoods near rail transit stations.
Simon McDonnell, Josiah Madar, Vicki Been. Transportation and Economic Development Challenges (Edward Elgar Publishing) . May 2011.