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City zoning laws reinforce socioeconomic inequality, UCLA Luskin study shows

“Exclusionary zoning” has contributed to racial and economic segregation for decades

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A study by researchers at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs shines a light on how zoning law changes in the largest U.S. metropolitan areas are increasing inequality and raising concerns about social mobility.

One of the most influential factors in shaping metropolitan areas, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, is the government’s use of land regulations and zoning laws, which determine building densities and land uses. “The playing field,” according to the researchers, “is far from equal.”

It is well known that zoning laws and land regulation contribute to racial and economic segregation through “exclusionary zoning” policies, but the new study by Michael Lens and Paavo Monkkonen, assistant professors of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, examines these processes in depth. Their research revealed four patterns in zoning restrictions: zoning policies in metropolitan areas isolate wealth zoning laws across the entire metropolitan area are relevant; localized zoning policies contribute to the segregation of neighborhoods; centralized policies can mitigate segregation across metropolitan areas.

Read the full news release.

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