In August, firsttuesday asked readers what is the best zoning for residential use. Respondents answered the poll with an astounding split in judgement.

According to our poll – 51% of readers believed there ought to be more permissive zoning which allows for higher density construction.

The remaining 49% advocated for more restrictive zoning which limits the number of units and height allowed for new residential construction.

This razor thin outcome in the polling results parallels the highly contentious nature of zoning more broadly. With a poll lead contingent on one vote, it is important to identify the underlying factors that impact zoning regulations and housing in California. The state has been undergoing an inventory shortage , low construction rates, and an ever-present homelessness crisis. These are indisputable facts that affect all real estate practitioners, not to mentioning the buying and selling public they represent.  But there are concrete solutions to these issues.

In terms of increasing housing, there are three effective routes to pave the way:

  • loosen zoning rules;
  • ease the land subdivision process for landowners; and
  • relax local review regulations for large housing developments, according to Zillow.

Without changing our approach to make these policies, the pressing issues that have an impact on housing in California will only continue to worsen. There are also side effects to the larger picture that increase prices. We see this in supply-side zoning regulations, such as:

  • parking restrictions;
  • permitting costs and wait times;
  • land use regulations; and
  • height restrictions.

Due to these factors, the rates of California homeownership will continue to drop, negatively affecting the income of real estate professionals in the California real estate ecosystem. There are ways to get involved, but it starts with recognizing how zoning regulations impact the California housing market.

As was the censuses for a slim majority of our readers, more permissive zoning allows for higher density residential construction. As a result, much needed support is given to solving the inventory shortage, low construction rates, and the homelessness crisis.