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Land-use regulations, property values, and rents: Decomposing the effects of the California Coastal Act

Christopher Severen and Andrew J. Plantinga

Journal of Urban Economics, 2018, vol. 107, issue C, 65-78

Abstract: Land-use regulations can lower real estate prices by imposing costs on property owners, but may raise prices by restricting supply and generating amenities. We study the effects of the California Coastal Act, one of the nation’s most stringent land-use regulations, on the price and rental income of multifamily housing. The Coastal Act applies to a narrow section of the California coast, allowing us to compare properties just on either side of the jurisdictional boundary. The setting is advantageous for the study of land-use regulation: boundary location is plausibly exogenous, which we confirm with historical data on boundary placement, and orthogonal to other jurisdictional divisions. We decompose the effects of the regulation into (i) a neighbor effect, the value of restrictions on adjacent properties, (ii) a local effect, which reflects the net effect of own-lot restrictions and the neighbor effect, and (iii) an external effect, the value of amenities generated by restrictions on all properties within the regulated area. Our analysis of multifamily housing prices reveals local and external effects of approximately +6% and +13%, respectively. We use data on rental income to estimate a zero neighbor effect. Together with evidence on building ages and assessed building and land values, this suggests that property owners anticipate that the Coastal Act will provide protection from undesirable development on adjacent properties, even though material differences have not yet appeared.

Keywords: Land use regulation; Housing prices; Spillovers; California Coastal Commission; Quasi-experiment; Spatial difference-in-differences; Spatial regression discontinuity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q24 R31 R52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2018.07.001

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