Theses Master's

Libertarian-Endorsed Urban Planning Tool: Exploring the Use of Performance-Based Zoning for Addressing the Affordable Housing Crisis

Johannes, Nicholas

Finding a solution to solve this nation’s affordable housing crisis is one of the greatest quandaries that scholars, politicians, planners, and social activists are faced with today. From a bird’s eye-view, this crisis is rooted in the confluence of the larger, interconnected debate about low wage jobs in the labor market, inadequate government subsidies for affordable housing, the absence of innovation in housing production methods, escalating development costs, and imbalance demand for and supply of housing in the market. Excessive land use regulations exacerbate many of the aforementioned causes of the crisis. Many previous studies find a strong positive correlation between the degree of land use restrictions and the cost of housing. As a novel attempt to correct the affordable housing crisis, a libertarian approach to planning is then proposed. Tenets of the libertarian ideology include the embrace of the free markets, the protection of property rights, and the defense of a limited government. The goal of the planner that endorses the libertarian ideology is to correct malfunctions in the marketplace without excessively inhibiting market processes. An example of a libertarian-endorsed tool is the performance-based zoning. In a performance-based zoned area, development is guided by objective performance standards. In essence, any development’s use and form are permitted as long as it checks off the performance criteria. The benefits of performance-based zoning are its ability to produce a wider range of housing typology, a greater supply of housing, and lower housing production costs. This thesis investigates the extent to which a libertarian-endorsed urban planning tool, like performance-based zoning, can be used for addressing the affordable housing crisis. The research finds that the current iteration of performance-based zoning is an incomplete and ill-equipped tool for addressing the affordable housing crisis. It does not fully embrace the market-driven and permissive approaches of the libertarian ideology. For performance-based zoning to work as a tool for addressing the affordable housing crisis, a revised and updated version of performance-based zoning should be envisioned.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2018