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Cityscape: Volume 25 Number 2 | Recent Reforms in Zoning | Does Housing Growth in Washington, D.C., Reflect Land Use Policy Changes?


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Recent Reforms in Zoning

Volume 25 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

Does Housing Growth in Washington, D.C., Reflect Land Use Policy Changes?

Leah Brooks
George Washington University

Jenny Schuetz
Brookings Metro

Across the United States, rising housing costs have increased the political pressure on local elected officials to encourage more housing production. Local and state governments are experimenting with changes to land use regulations that could allow more housing to be built through infill development. Between 2000 and 2020, Washington, D.C., engaged in substantial infill development, increasing the housing stock by about 15 percent. This article examines whether areas in the city with particularly high growth saw large zoning changes. The authors find that most housing development occurred where underused commercial or industrial land was repurposed into high-density residential uses. Some highgrowth neighborhoods experienced rezoning; others saw conversions of existing structures with little zoning changes. Notably, high-growth areas initially had very little land zoned for single-family homes.

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