Inclusionary Zoning Goals and Outcomes

Producing Affordable Housing

A primary goal of inclusionary zoning is the creation of housing that low and moderate-income households can afford, especially in growing areas where they are being priced out. For example, Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program aims to “mitigate impacts of new development on the demand for affordable housing” and ensure “affordability for households across the income spectrum as [the city’s] population and employment continue to grow” (City of Seattle, 2015, pp. 4, 8).

Inclusionary zoning’s success in creating affordable housing is difficult to evaluate, because local governments do not always keep systematic records and because of the lack of a good counterfactual: it is unknown how many units would have been produced in the absence of inclusionary zoning (Levy et al., 2012; Mukhija et al., 2015; Thaden & Wang, 2017). Nonetheless, several studies provide insight into these programs’ productivity. Inclusionary zoning contributed 43% of new affordable units across three counties in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area from 1974 to 1999, including half of the affordable units built in Montgomery County (Brown, 2001 ).4 Between 1980 and 2003, affordable units created through inclusionary programs constituted 2.3% of all new residential development in the San Francisco Bay Area (Schuetz, Meltzer, & Been, 2009). The productivity of mandatory inclusionary zoning programs across seven Los Angeles and Orange County jurisdictions roughly matched that of the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program from 1998 to 2005 (Mukhija, Regus, Slovin, &c Das, 2010)—although an analysis of five high-cost regions found that the LIHTC program produced substantially more units annually, on average, than inclusionary programs (Freeman & Schuetz, 2017). Despite varying findings across jurisdictions, there is a strong consensus that inclusionary zoning can increase localities’ below-market-rate housing stock but falls far short of meeting local and national

Zoning for Inclusion and Affordability 151 affordable housing gaps (e.g., Freeman & Schuetz, 2017; Mukhija et al., 2015; Schwartz, Ecola, Leuschner, & Kofner, 2012).

Promoting Racial and Socioeconomic Integration

Many inclusionary zoning programs aim to reduce residential segregation by siting affordable housing within or close to market-rate developments in amenity-rich neighborhoods. Despite mixed evidence of the benefits of residential integration efforts for the groups they aim to assist, it remains a common goal of government housing policy broadly and inclusionary zoning more specifically (e.g., Chetty, Hendren, & Katz, 2016; Goetz, 2018; Levy, McDade, & Bertumen, 2013; Ludwig et al., 2012; Massey, Albright, Casciano, & Kinsey, 2013). Some inclusionary zoning programs, such as San José’s, explicitly promote “the geographic dispersal of affordable housing throughout the City to enhance the social and economic well-being of all residents” (City of San José, 2010, p. 5). An analysis of 11 regionally and programmatically diverse programs concluded that they had dispersed affordable housing throughout the relevant jurisdictions, with units typically located outside of high-poverty areas—consistent with several other studies (Brown, 2001; Dawkins, Jeon, & Knaap, 2016; Kontokosta, 2015; Levy et al., 2012; Schwartz et al., 2012). In other contexts, however, inclusionary zoning has concentrated affordable units in neighborhoods with greater shares of minority and low-income residents and higher proportions of multifamily housing (Kontokosta, 2015; Ryan & Enderle, 2012). Such concentrations may reflect the lower cost of, and decreased resistance to, affordable housing construction in these areas (Kontokosta, 2015; Ryan & Enderle, 2012). More broadly, these outcomes illustrate a tension between the goals of promoting residential integration—at a higher cost—and maximizing affordable housing production (Goetz, 2018; Mukhija et al., 2015).

The SRU Law: When French Zoning Says No to Inclusion

Magda Maaoui

As in the US, zoning has important implications for the reproduction of segregation in French cities. In December 2000, France passed the Loi sur la Solidarité et Renouvellement Urbain, or SRU Law.5 It requires selected municipalities6 to devote 25% of their housing stock to social units by 2025, with the goal of equitably distributing national construction efforts. This requirement, announced in a nationally adopted housing plan, is implemented through municipal zoning documents.

The law subjects municipalities that do not meet these goals—“outlaw municipalities”—to financial penalties and three-year construction recovery plans with stricter affordability requirements. Financial penalties—based onthe municipality’s tax capacity and the number of units constructed—can amount to 5% of a city’s operating budget. Still, many localities remain non-compliant: in 2017, 62% of municipalities (1,222 of 1,997) have not reached their goals. The penalties for just 269 of these municipalities total to an additional €76.8 million for national social housing construction efforts.

Uneven adoption does not simply line national housing coffers; it also represents a localized manifestation of larger political disputes about the distribution of space among socioeconomic groups in French cities. Noncom-pliant municipalities cluster in two regions (Figure 1.1): Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in South of France (40%) and Paris’ Île-de-France region (18%).7

Outlaw municipalities by region (2017)

Source: Ministère de la Cohésion des Territoires 2017.

Institut Géographique National GEOFLA 2016. Magda Maaoui, 2018.


I iMiles

Figure 8.1 (a) Outlaw municipalities, by region (Ministère de la Cohésion des Territoires, 2017); (b) percentage of new social housing units concentrated in Quartiers prioritaires de la politique de la ville (QPV) (low-income) neighborhoods, by region (RPLS, 2017)

Noncompliance is correlated with political affiliation, as 71% of outlaw municipalities have a right-wing mayor. While social housing construction has increased from 4.1 to 4.9 million units between 1999 and 2017, half of all French municipalities have no social housing. At the neighborhood level, social housing appears to cluster in ways that undermine social integration goals. Many units are located in what the national government has designated as historically underserved neighborhoods, which already have a high concentration of social housing and lower-income ethnic minorities (Figure 2.1). This is even more striking in French municipalities located overseas, where 38% of the stock is concentrated in underserved neighborhoods. Social mixing policies like the SRU Law have long been subject to scorn by dissenting local governments (Tissot, 2007) who have traditionally used zoning laws to

Social housing stock by region on January 1, 2017

I 14100

H 14101 - 224500

H| 224501 - 299400

  • 299101 568400
  • 569401 - 1263700

Source: Répertoire des logements locatifs des bailleurs sociaux SDES-RPLS dataset 2017.

Institut Géographique National GEOFLA 2016.

Magda Maaoul, 2018.


Figure 8.1 (Continued) exacerbate exclusionary logic. This case illustrates the challenges of using local zoning tools to make reluctant municipalities fix much deeper affordability and segregation problems.

Ministère de la Cohésion des Territoires. (2017). Chiffres et Statistiques du Logement Social [National dataset|. Retrieved from

Ministère de la Transition Écologique et Solidaire. (2017). Répertoires des Logements Locatifs des Bailleurs Sociaux (RPLS) [National dataset]. Retrieved from

Tissot, S. (2007). L’état et Les Quartiers: Genèse D’une Catégorie de L’action Publique. Paris: Seuil.

Minimizing Displacement

Some inclusionary zoning programs aim to mitigate the residential displacement pressures that can result from zoning changes or increased investment in specific neighborhoods. As demand for development rises in these areas, an opportunity exists for governments to trade zoning concessions for the creation of affordable units. For example, the mandatory inclusionary policy in Portland, Oregon, is expected to “create opportunities for middle and low income households to stay in neighborhoods and adapt to rapidly changing] economic conditions that are manifested through housing price increases” (Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, 2016, p. 8). To increase the chances that inclusionary zoning will assist incumbent low-income residents, some programs give such households priority for on-site inclusionary units. For example, up to 40% of affordable units developed through San Francisco’s Inclusionary Housing Program are reserved for households that live in the district in which the new project is built or within a half-mile of the development (San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, 2018). Although inclusionary zoning’s effectiveness at mitigating displacement has yet to be evaluated, case studies and policy critiques suggest that there are serious trade-offs involved in using a strong-market tool to address the adverse impact of private development for lower-income households (ACT-LA, 2018; Angotti, 2008; Stabrowski, 2015; Stein, 2018). These trade-offs, which are discussed in more detail later, are at the heart of resistance to the rezonings associated with inclusionary programs (Stahl, this volume).

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