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Knowledge Base

The Government and Your House’s Price Tag: How Regulations that Restrict Supply Harm Home Buyers

What are land use regulations/zoning ordinances?

Land use regulations/rules or zoning ordinances are government-approved laws that dictate how property within the government’s jurisdiction can be used. These laws include defining what type of structures can be built on the land, what those structures can be used for (i.e. housing, retail spaces, industrial uses), what those structures can look like, and other specific items that must be or cannot be present in or around the structure (i.e. how many parking spaces must be associated with the building).

How do NIMBYs control or dictate a locality’s development process?

In most communities, zoning or land use decisions are made by the local elected council. These councils, however, delegate significant portions of the planning and development process to appointed boards or commissions. NIMBYs can influence the decisions of elected councils by a) getting elected to the council, b) getting appointed to the various types of planning boards that first screen development plans and land use rules and provide recommendations to the elected council, or c) showing up to board and council meetings to provide public comments on the development items to be discussed and voted on during that particular meeting. In many cases, NIMBYs use all three methods to ensure their (and only their) opinions are heard.

What is the solution to housing unaffordability for a region?

The only long-term, sustainable solution of housing unaffordability is to correct the supply and demand mismatch. This typically means encouraging the development of new housing supply. If the solution isn’t correcting the supply-demand mismatch, then it will only be a short-term fix and could make the problem much worse.