TOWARD A MORE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH IN ANALYZING LAND USE POLICIES AND PRACTICES: A CASE STUDY OF SUBURBAN HOUSING PATTERNS

HAROLD J. WITHERS, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation examines suburban land use policy changes during the 1970's and analyzes possible influences, particularly economic factors, contributing to the less exclusionary outputs found within the case study region of Long Island. Most past land use studies have explained outputs by utilizing a pluralist theoretical approach focusing on the overt competition within the decisional process. From this perspective, suburban zoning practices were viewed as an outgrowth of middle class dominance of homogeneous and fragmented political jurisdictions on the urban periphery which allowed this predominant group to achieve their exclusionary goals. In this study, a broader approach was applied taking into research consideration exogenous factors to the decisional process such as found in the national economic structure which influence and constrain attitudes observed in a local political arena.^ It was discovered that suburban residential land use policies became less exclusionary in recent years as various categories of multiple-dwellings and two-family conversions increased significantly as a percentage of the region's housing inventory. Intrinsic to these higher density land uses were economic benefits which created additional sources of revenue for family and municipal budgets in the form of rental incomes or an expanded tax base. An economic analysis of the region showed that individual families and local governments were experiencing financial problems during the 1970's due to the dysfunctions in the national economy and required these additional revenue sources.^ In order to ameliorate these economic pressures, the viable land use attitudes of both residents and public officials were restricted to revenue generating alternatives, even if they represented housing concepts contrary to previous amenity-based community preferences. Survey research indicated that of all the variables tested, family income levels most significantly influenced land use attitudes of local residents. Lower, and more significantly, middle-income residents showed greater support for the less exclusionary policies than higher income individuals who were more insulated from the effects of a declining economy. Economic considerations also motivated the behavior of public officials who, in elite interviews, supported numerous forms of higher density residential development for their own budgetary concerns and those of their constituents. ^

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

WITHERS, HAROLD J., "TOWARD A MORE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH IN ANALYZING LAND USE POLICIES AND PRACTICES: A CASE STUDY OF SUBURBAN HOUSING PATTERNS" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8506366.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8506366

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