In 2021, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the NYU Furman Center sought proposals for a series of papers that would study the effects of changes to land use law.

We noted in the call for papers that while recent scholarship has continued to unlock important insights about the relationships between land use regulations, housing production, and the shape of our cities, more work was needed to help cities and states develop a practical toolkit of reforms. This series of papers aimed to understand how specific land use reforms—whether substantive revisions to particular provisions of zoning or building codes or procedural reforms of the land use process—affected outcomes on the ground, especially with respect to residential development.

The result is the excellent contributions below. Scholars across the country replied with a diversity of topics that warranted inclusion under this umbrella. As Prof. Noah Kazis describes in the series’ introduction, the selection we landed on examines changes to the substance of land use law and its procedures. It also includes detailed analysis of regulatory changes that applied in select neighborhoods, citywide, and even at the state level. As well, close attention is paid to the ongoing reform efforts in California, which is the current epicenter of both the housing affordability crisis and efforts to tackle it through land use changes. 

We hope this collection serves as a valuable contribution to scholarship on land use, and serves policymakers with fresh analysis of a timely issue under debate in America’s statehouses and city halls.

We are deeply grateful to The Pew Charitable Trusts for their support of this work and to the authors who submitted their papers.

We also thank the amazing Furman Center team for valuable research assistance, in particular, Zi Lin Liang, Hayley Raetz, Jiaqi Dong, Kayla Merriweather, Iris Zhao, Shannon Flores, Ceinna Little, and Alex Roth.