Do land use regulations help or hurt private property values?

A landowner might think about how much more her property would be worth if she could just add another floor or build closer to a creek, without considering what would happen to her property value if all her neighbors and everyone for miles around were free to do anything they wanted with their property.

Via an excellent post in Gristmill, there’s a Georgetown University study on property values in Oregon that found land use regulations actually increase property values. Prior to 2004, Oregon had the strongest land use regulations in the country. A private-property interest voter initiative in 2004 threw that system in disarray. The study found that until the voter initiative went into effect, property values in Oregon equalled or exceeded performance in similar but less-regulated counties in Washington, and also with Washington and California as a whole. As Gristmill describes:

How can restrictions on property increase value? Well, you’ll have to read the report for a full explanation. But the simple answer is that while growth regulations may decrease the development potential, they can raise values through amenity values, scarcity, tax reductions, and agricultural protections, just to name a few.


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