Capitalization and Exclusionary Zoning

  • Christopher SerkinEmail author


For decades, land use experts have wrestled with the problem of exclusionary zoning. Traditionally, the phenomenon has been characterized primarily by suburban communities using large-lot zoning and other density controls to reduce supply and drive up the cost of housing. Increasingly, however, zoning is blamed for the affordability crisis in many thriving cities. Some of the conventional legal tools for recognizing and responding to exclusionary zoning do not apply as well in cities, where minimum lot sizes and bans on multi-family housing are not the primary source of density limits. This chapter therefore provides a new lens for identifying exclusionary zoning, one that focuses on the economic effects instead of any particular characteristic. In particular, the chapter looks at the extent to which the economic values of public services like high-quality public schools are capitalized into property values. In the absence of supply restrictions, developers should satisfy consumer demand and compete away any premium associated with public services. Zoning, however, changes that dynamic, allowing services to be capitalized into property values. Affluent communities are not just exclusionary because they are expensive; they are expensive in part because they are exclusionary.



Thanks to Amnon Lehavi for his support, to Ronit Levine-Schnur for her careful comments, to participants at the 2018 Progressive Property Conference for their comments, and to Vid Sankar and Deborah Schander for their research assistance.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt Law SchoolNashvilleUSA

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