Poster Paper: Our Town: Support for Housing Growth When Localism Meets Liberalism

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Weihuang Wong, NORC at the University of Chicago

Community resistance to new housing is a cause of housing supply shortfalls in cities around the United States. Citizens differ on the desirable rate and nature of housing growth. I argue that two types of political beliefs shape support for housing growth. Localism is the belief that the interests of established members of the local community should be privileged relative to those of newcomers and outsiders. Liberalism is the belief that economic outcomes should be equitable. I hypothesize that liberals' support for housing growth is moderated by the type of housing being produced. Localism, on the other hand, is negatively associated with support for housing growth, regardless of the type of development being proposed. I find empirical support for both hypotheses in a survey experiment and from rich observational data on land use ballot measures in San Francisco.

These findings inform the design of housing policies and development agreements when community stakeholders are veto players. For example, policy innovations to protect housing wealth may be ineffective in boosting support for new development if objections to new market-rate development among urban dwellers are motivated by sincere concerns about economic equity. Conversely, inclusionary zoning laws may help to ease the politics of development, in cities where local residents are already favorably predisposed to redistributive public policy.