Inclusionary Zoning: What Does the Research Tell Us about the Effectiveness of Local Action?

Published: 2019 | Kriti Ramakrishnan, Mark Treskon, and Solomon Greene | Urban League


As real wages stagnate, racial disparities grow, and housing prices soar in cities across the US, local governments are increasingly adopting laws and regulations that aim to reduce inequalities and improve access to economic opportunity for their residents (Berube et al. 2018; Greene et al. 2016). These new local laws span a broad range of areas, from protections against discrimination to proactive steps to reduce housing costs or raise incomes. At the same time, states are increasingly enacting laws that limit or preempt local action in these areas, often relying on a thin or nonexistent evidence base to suggest that local regulation is inefficient or overly burdensome (Briffault et al. 2018; Einstein and Glick 2017). In these four briefs, we explore and summarize the research on the effectiveness of local action in four areas: minimum wages, paid sick days, rent control, and inclusionary zoning. We also discuss general trends in state and local laws as well as opportunities to fill research gaps and improve evidence-based policymaking in each area.