Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2216842
 


 



Reducing Crime by Shaping the Built Environment with Zoning: An Empirical Study of Los Angeles


James M. Anderson


RAND Corporation

John MacDonald


University of Pennsylvania - Jerry Lee Center of Criminology

Ricky Bluthenthal


University of Southern California - Keck School of Medicine

J. Scott Ashwood


RAND Corporation

February 13, 2013

University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 161, No. 699, 2013

Abstract:     
The idea of using law to change the built environment in ways that reduce opportunities to commit crimes has a long history. Unfortunately, this idea has received relatively little attention in the legal academy and only limited rigorous empirical scrutiny. In this Article, we review the considerable literature on the relationship between zoning, the built environment, and crime. We then report the results of two empirical studies on these relationships. First, we conducted a study of the effect of zoning on crime using 205 blocks selected in eight different relatively high crime neighborhoods in Los Angeles that have similar demographic character- istics but different forms of zoned land use. We find that mixed commercial- and residential-zoned areas are associated with lower crime than are commercial-only zoned areas. Second, we matched neighborhoods undergoing zoning changes between 2006 and 2010 with neighborhoods that underwent no zoning changes during this period but had similar preexisting crime trajectories between 1994 and 2005. The primary zoning change in these neighborhoods was to convert parcels to residential uses. We find that neighborhoods in which there was a zoning change experienced a significant decline in crime. Our results suggest that mixing residential-only zoning into commercial blocks may be a promising means of reducing crime.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 59

Keywords: crime, planning, built-environment

JEL Classification: K14, H79, H40

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Date posted: February 13, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Anderson, James M. and MacDonald, John and Bluthenthal, Ricky and Ashwood, J. Scott, Reducing Crime by Shaping the Built Environment with Zoning: An Empirical Study of Los Angeles (February 13, 2013). University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 161, No. 699, 2013. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2216842

Contact Information

James M. Anderson (Contact Author)
RAND Corporation ( email )
4570 Fifth Avenue, Suite 600
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2665
United States
412 683-2300 (Phone)
John MacDonald
University of Pennsylvania - Jerry Lee Center of Criminology
United States
Ricky Bluthenthal
University of Southern California - Keck School of Medicine ( email )
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
J. Scott Ashwood
RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States
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