Improving the Distribution of Densities in Southern California

Research Team: Jae Hong Kim and Xiangyu Li

University: UC Irvine

Problem Statement: Many of the biggest transportation challenges in Southern California arise not due to its overall density but due to the lack of concentration of densities. While recent years have witnessed increasing efforts to expand public transit services and encourage compact development in transit areas, there is a dearth of research providing support for improving the distribution of densities in the region.

Project Description: This project adopts a simultaneous equation modeling (SEM) approach to reveal the complexity of parcel-level (residential) land use intensification dynamics in a five-county Southern California metropolitan region with emphasis on the importance of reciprocal interactions between current and planned land use changes and the critical role of public transit accessibility. Results suggest that residential densification and upzoning processes reinforce each other. Urban residential upzoning can promote the probability of parcel-level residential densification significantly, even though it does not always lead to an immediate market response in every location. More importantly, the residential density increases are found to induce further plan/zoning modifications in nearby areas, indicating the presence of feedback loops in this dynamic relationship. There is also evidence of the positive influence of public transit accessibility. Single-family residential land parcels with greater access to high-quality transit services show a higher level of densification and upzoning probabilities, when all other conditions are held constant. Such positive effects are detected not only in existing high-quality transit areas but also in locations where public transit services will be available in the future.

Status: Completed

Budget: $51,392

Project Partner(s): Southern California Association of Governments

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