The Case Against Restrictive Land Use and Zoning

Restrictive zoning has serious consequences for the New York region and its residents. It leads to more expensive housing by limiting supply to meet strong demand. It reduces economic productivity and stifles growth. It increases inequality, redistributing wealth from renters to home and land owners. It is also deeply tied to residential segregation and the racial wealth gap, locking in existing residential patterns and increasing the barriers to homeownership. It has environmental drawbacks, increasing sprawl, vehicle miles, and per capita carbon emissions. Finally, restrictive zoning decreases choice, preventing many households from living in communities and housing types they may prefer. New York City suburbs’ zoning practices contribute to each of these harms. While the city and other areas of the state must also reconsider their zoning policies, state action should focus on these suburban locales, where many measures suggest the problem is the most acute.