Property Value Capitalization And Municipal Open Space Referenda
Billions of dollars have been approved through referenda over the last decade for the acquisition and conservation of private land by municipal governments along the densely populated corridor of the Northeast. This paper first applies the theory of property price capitalization to a public good, “open space”, that can both provide amenities and constrain the supply of new housing. A set of predictions that distinguish homeowner-voters’ incentives to exercise a form of monopoly power over the housing market from demand for the environmental good are based on: (1) the appeal of open space measures to renters, (2) the impact on demand from conservation in neighboring communities, and (3) the relationship between demand for open space and the quality of another locally provided good, public schools. The results indicate a significant degree of demand for open space is being motivated by a simple desire to constrain housing supply and bid up property values, and therefore offer a cautionary note that environmental policy can be used to pursue other goals.
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