Housing Affordability Crisis and Inequities of Land Use Change
Many fast-growing metropolitan regions face a housing affordability crisis that necessitates cities change their land use policies to address this problem. How do cities in metropolitan regions change their land use policies to equitably address the region’s housing needs? We focused on 180 cities in the Southern California region, which has a shortage of housing for all income groups and a severe shortage of affordable housing. We first examined the region-wide distribution of land uses and evaluated whether land use portfolios of cities are associated with their populations’ socioeconomic characteristics using cluster analysis and one-way analysis of variance. Next, we examined land use change by cities and measured the “weakening” (a reduction in cities’ share of residential land use for multifamily housing from 2008 to 2016) and “exclusiveness” (cities’ share of residential land use for single-family housing in 2016) of their land use portfolios. We revealed inequities in the region-wide distribution of multifamily land use, found an association between land use portfolios of cities and their populations’ socioeconomic characteristics, and thus conclude that land use change by cities inequitably addresses the region’s housing needs. We did not, however, examine the effects of land use change on housing production or affordability, which could provide further insights.
Our findings suggest that a) California’s state government should require cities to reform their land use policies to mitigate the region-wide inequities in the distribution of multifamily housing and to equitably address the housing affordability crisis and b) researchers could similarly evaluate land use portfolios of cities in other metropolitan regions to suggest how to equitably address the region’s housing needs.