Land Use in California

California Land Use
Working Papers

California's housing affordability crisis has prompted public leaders and citizens alike to examine the policies and practices that shape the state's housing supply. Authored by leading researchers from across the country, these papers use the Terner Center's California Residential Land Use Data Set, published in December 2018, to better understand the implications of California's local and state policies on the production of housing, including what kind of housing gets built, who gets to live in that housing, based on current and historic patterns, and the connections between housing and employment opportunities.

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Land Use Politics, Housing Costs, and Segregation in California Cities

Jonathan Rothwell

This paper looks at how land use and the local political environment in California jurisdictions relates to housing prices and predict segregation by race and class.

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Is California’s Apartment Market Broken? The Relationship Between Zoning, Rents, and Multifamily Development

Jenny Schuetz and Cecile Murray

This paper looks at how California cities use zoning to restrict less costly building types, particularly multifamily apartment buildings, despite the state’s deepening affordability challenges.

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Comparing Perceptions and Practice: Why Better Land Use Data Is Critical to Ground Truth Legal Reforms

Moira O’Neill, Giulia Gualco-Nelson, and Eric Biber

Focusing on eight California cities, this paper compares case studies and the Terner Center California Land Use Data Set to investigate the tensions between process, perception, and outcomes in land use policy and housing production in California.

Published in collaboration with the Center for California Real Estate

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Regulating ADUs in California: Local Approaches and Outcomes

Deirdre Pfeiffer

While accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are often mentioned as a key strategy in solving the nation's housing affordability challenges, little is known about how formal ADU ordinances contribute to these goals. This paper identifies the three main approaches to ADUs among California localities, based on a new index of relative restrictiveness.

Published in collaboration with the Center for California Real Estate

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Housing Policies in California Cities: Seeking Local Solutions to a Statewide Shortfall

Sarah Mawhorter

Decisions about housing development are made at the local level, encouraging or deterring growth in ways that shape patterns of affordability and opportunity. This paper explores the local land use policies and planning practices, along with housing, economic, and demographic characteristics, that shape housing development in California cities, with a specific exploration of the consequences of these patterns for young adults.

Published in collaboration with the Center for California Real Estate

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Check back for more papers soon.

About the Terner Center for Housing Innovation

The Terner Center for Housing Innovation formulates bold strategies to house families from all walks of life in vibrant, sustainable, and affordable homes and communities. Learn more

About the Center for California Real Estate

The Center for California Real Estate focuses on generating new thinking and solutions to California's homeownership challenges by taking a broad and inclusive view of the complex issues facing the state. In order to further these goals, the Center regularly engages with academic partners and policymakers to produce a rich repository of housing research and data accessible to REALTOR® members and the public at large. Learn more

The Descriptive Report

Key findings from the Terner Center California Residential Land Use survey.

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Work with the Data

The data from the survey, as well as the documentation, can be downloaded by registering here. Researchers using the data should cite it as follows:

Sarah Mawhorter and Carolina Reid (2018). Terner California Residential Land Use Survey. Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley.

We would also like to create a library of reports and research that use the survey. Please send us your work products to ternercenter@berkeley.edu.

Land Use in California

The most up-to-date, publicly available resource for understanding land use policy and practice in California jurisdictions.