The effects of large-lot zoning on the single-family housing market Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/v692t953h

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  • This study investigated the private costs to individual households of large-lot zoning policies. The study asked whether typical zoning ordinances create shortages of small lots or small structures and, if so, what the magnitude of the resultant welfare loss is. The hypotheses were suggested by a theoretical model developed to explain the effect of a shortage of small lots on housing prices: 1) Mean lot size is larger under large-lot zoning; 2) The coefficient of lot size in a hedonic house price index is smaller under large-lot zoning; 3) Structure size and lot size are closely related; 4) Mean structure size is larger under large-lot zoning; 5) The coefficient of structure size in a hedonic house price index is smaller under large-lot zoning. The hypotheses were tested by comparing parameters of housing markets in western Oregon cities with relatively restrictive and unrestrictive minimum lot size requirements. Relevant parameters in each city were calculated from a sample of houses sold in each city in 1977-78. The sampling frame and house prices and characteristics were obtained from county assessors' records. Mean lot sizes were significantly larger in the restrictive cities than in the unrestrictive cities. Lot sizes for new houses were significantly larger even after controlling for structure size, indicating differences in income distributions were not entirely responsible for differences in lot sizes. The coefficients of lot size in the hedonic price indices were significantly smaller for restrictive cities. These results provide strong evidence zoning in the restrictive cities was misallocating lot sizes. Under restrictive assumptions, the welfare loss to the marginal household displaced from a small lot was estimated to be about $1,000. Lot and structure sizes for new houses were significantly correlated, but mean structure sizes in restrictive cities were not significantly larger than in the unrestrictive cities. Nor were structure size coefficients in the hedonic price indices significantly smaller. These results indicate there is no strong evidence zoning was misallocating structure sizes in the restrictive cities, limiting the estimated welfare loss to that stemming solely from shortages of small lots.
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