Land Use in California

California Land Use
Working Paper Series

California's housing crisis has prompted public leaders and citizens alike to examine the policies and practices that shape the state's use of land, including how and where housing gets built and preserved. Using a brand new set of data profiling land use policies and practices in 252 cities and 19 unincorporated county areas across California, this working paper series explores important questions about the relationship between California's land use and housing policies and their impact on the state's residents and communities.

Read the Papers

Subscribe to receive email updates when new papers are posted

Terner Center Center for California Real Estate

The Terner Center for Housing Innovation and Center for California Real Estate present a working paper series, authored by leading academics and researchers from across the country. Utilizing the Terner Center's California Land Use database, researchers explore 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, and the connection between housing and employment opportunities.

Cover image
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.

Download the Paper

Cover image
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.

Download the Paper

Cover image

Check back for more papers.

About the Terner Center and CCRE

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

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.

Download the Report
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

Land Use in California

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