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Stringency of Land-Use Regulation: Building Heights in US Cities

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  • Jan K. Brueckner
  • Ruchi Singh

Abstract

This paper has explored the stringency of land-use regulation in US cities, focusing on building heights. Substantial stringency is present when regulated heights are far below free-market heights, while stringency is lower when the two values are closer. Using FAR as a height index, theory shows that the elasticity of the land price with respect to FAR is a proper stringency measure. This elasticity is estimated for five US cities by combining CoStar land-sales data with FAR values from local zoning maps, and the results show that New York and Washington, D.C., have stringent height regulations, while Chicago’s and San Francisco’s regulations are less stringent (Boston represents an intermediate case).

Suggested Citation

  • Jan K. Brueckner & Ruchi Singh, 2018. "Stringency of Land-Use Regulation: Building Heights in US Cities," CESifo Working Paper Series 6978, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6978
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6978.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dye, Richard F. & McMillen, Daniel P., 2007. "Teardowns and land values in the Chicago metropolitan area," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 45-63, January.
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    5. Byunggeor Moon, 2019. "The effect of FAR (floor area ratio) regulations on land values: The case of New York," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(6), pages 2343-2354, December.
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    8. Barr, Jason & Cohen, Jeffrey P., 2014. "The floor area ratio gradient: New York City, 1890–2009," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 110-119.
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    11. Joseph Gyourko & Albert Saiz & Anita Summers, 2008. "A New Measure of the Local Regulatory Environment for Housing Markets: The Wharton Residential Land Use Regulatory Index," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 45(3), pages 693-729, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph Gyourko & Jonathan Hartley & Jacob Krimmel, 2019. "The Local Residential Land Use Regulatory Environment Across U.S. Housing Markets: Evidence from a New Wharton Index," NBER Working Papers 26573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Anthony Yezer & William Larson & Weihua Zhao, 2018. "An Examination of the Link between Urban Planning Policies and the High Cost of Housing and Labor," Working Papers 2018-6, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    building heights; FAR; stringency; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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