experiment

You Won’t be My Neighbor: Opposition to High Density Development

By Jessica Trounstine (University of California, Merced) | The 1926 Supreme Court decision Euclid v. Ambler upheld the right of cities to use their police powers to regulate how and where development would occur within their borders. In his opinion, Justice Sutherland famously described the apartment house as, “often a mere parasite, constructed in order to take advantage of the open spaces and attractive surroundings created by the residential character of the district.” Today, many communities throughout the United States appear to agree with Justice Sutherland’s assessment. Virtually every city in the United States bans multifamily homes in at least some neighborhoods, and in many cities most residential land is restricted to single family homes (Badger and Bui 2019). This is the case even though many metropolitan areas are facing skyrocketing housing costs and increased environmental degradation that could be alleviated by denser housing supply. Some scholars have argued that an unrepresentative set of vocal development opponents are the culprits behind this collective action failure. Yet, recent work suggests that opposition to density may be widespread. In this research note, I provide evidence that preferences for single-family development are ubiquitous. I provide evidence that communities seek to block apartment buildings as a way to prevent a host of perceived negative outcomes from befalling their community.   Read More

December 10, 2021 // 0 Comments