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Department ofEconomics


The Effects of an “Urban Village” Planning and Zoning Strategy in San Jose, California

Michael Kevane, C.J. Gabbe, and William A. Sundstrom

Regional Science and Urban Economics



Rezoning commercial and residential parcels to permit mixed-use and higher density development in cities is a potentially important policy response to a variety of pressing urban planning issues, including housing affordability and transit congestion. Yet, comparatively little is known about the effects of density-increasing “upzoning” on these outcomes. We study the impacts of a major 2011 planning and zoning initiative – the designation of “urban villages” – on real estate development in the city of San Jose in California. We use several measures of development-related outcomes– permits for residential and commercial development, large development projects, parcel transactions, parcel assessed values–tracked before and after the urban village initiative. The estimated treatment effects, across specifications that vary by parcel use code, treatment periods, and identification strategy, suggest quite limited impact. We discuss potential reasons for the modest impact of the urban village strategy to upzone San Jose.

LSB Research, ECON, Michael Kevane, Williwam Sundstrom, Forthcoming,