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Chapter 4 directly links the regulations introduced in Chapter 3 with public meetings. This chapter focuses on why proposals end up in public meetings and what types of issues members of the public and zoning officials raise. We introduce the novel data on meeting minutes from Massachusetts cities and towns that we use in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Using these meeting minutes, we trace 100 randomly selected proposals in which we collected especially detailed project and meeting information. We show that once a project requires a public hearing, members of the public raise any and all concerns—not just those directly pertaining to the regulations that necessitated a meeting in the first place. The regulations described in Chapter 3 provide the opportunities for neighborhood defenders to air virtually all of their concerns and objections.
Chapter 2 develops our theory, highlighting how land use regulations and participatory inequalities come together to constrain the supply of new housing. We use a detailed case study of a Catholic Church redevelopment project to illustrate how neighbors opposed to development are able to delay development and reduce what gets built by participating in the planning and permitting process.
Chapter 1 uses several illustrative case studies to introduce the central argument of this book: that land use institutions ostensibly designed to empower underrepresented neighborhood groups actually amplify the power of neighborhood defenders to stop and delay the construction of new housing. We then situate this argument in the broader context of rising national housing costs, and the negative social, economic, and environmental consequences of the nationwide housing crunch.
Chapter 3 uses land use regulation and housing permitting data to: (1) clearly describe how land use regulations operate and (2) statistically link their proliferation with a diminished housing supply. We show how regulations create opportunities for opponents to file lawsuits, and how these lawsuits in turn reduce development. In order to address potential selection bias in our empirical analyses, we then use the redevelopment of Catholic Church properties across the greater Boston area as a natural experiment, and show that zoning regulations of all types decreased the density of the housing built on former church sites.
Chapter 6 then explores how these individuals stymy housing development using a mix of quantitative analysis of meeting minutes, in-depth case studies, and dozens of interviews with government officials, developers, and community activists. We analyze the wide range of concerns raised by meeting attendees and how commenters use in-depth knowledge of local zoning regulations to raise objections to special permits and variances.
Chapter 7 investigates potential policy solutions and the challenges facing building an affordable housing coalition. It uses a mix of elite survey data, interviews, and archival analysis to explore how gentrification has made prospects for reform more challenging, exploring the state-level politics surrounding SB 827 in California and Chapter 40B in Massachusetts. It concludes by outlining: (1) prospects for successful housing reform and (2) how the insights derived from housing politics might apply to other salient policy arenas, such as environmental and immigration policy.
Chapters 5 and 6 turn to members of the public. In Chapter 5, we combine a novel data set of all citizen participants in planning and zoning board meetings in the greater Boston area with the state voter file to describe the demographic and attitudinal attributes of meeting attendees. We demonstrate that these individuals are overwhelmingly opposed to new housing and demographically unrepresentative of their broader communities across a number of important domains.
While social connectedness is heralded as a key enabler of positive health and social outcomes for older people, rarely have they themselves had the opportunity to express their views about the concept. Working with a diverse group of Pacific, Māori, Asian and New Zealand European older adults, this paper explores what matters to older people when discussing social connectedness? We draw from individual, in-depth interviews with 44 older adults, and three group interviews comprising 32 older adults. Data were analysed using thematic and narrative analyses. The three themes identified were: getting out of the house, ability to connect and feelings of burden. Fundamental to social connectedness was participants’ desire to be recognised as resourceful agents able to foster relationships on the basis of mutual respect. Social connectedness was conceptualised as multi-levelled: relating to interpersonal relationships as much as neighbourhoods and wider society. Alongside these similarities we also discuss important differences. Participants preferred to socialise with people from similar cultural backgrounds where they shared taken-for-granted social customs and knowledges. This is in the context where racism, poverty and inequalities clearly impeded already minoritised participants’ sense of social connection. Key structural ways to improve social connectedness should focus on factors that enable cohesion between levels of connection, including stable neighbourhoods serviced with accessible public transport, liveable pensions and inclusivity of cultural diversity.