Citizens, Development Interests, and Local Land-Use Regulation

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Local governments confer significant benefits and costs on individuals and businesses through their power to regulate private land use. This article analyzes such regulation by using discriminant analysis to test a model of rezoning decision making. The results indicate that the best predictor of a local governing body's decision in a rezoning case is the recommendation of the appointed planning commission. This is contrary to both scholarly and popular expectations that pressure by developers or public protest is the major factor influencing elected officals in rezoning cases. The results suggest that citizen advisory boards may have significant effects on local policy-making, and that elected officials use such institutions both to provide themselves a buffer from political pressure and to forge a consensus on issues.