Liberalizing Land Use Regulations: The Case of Houston

7 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2020

Date Written: August 1, 2020


Sweeping subdivision regulation reform in Houston, Texas, provides an instructive alternative to what can often seem like a no-win scenario for local planners. The circumstances surrounding the city’s 1998 reduction of minimum lot sizes for single-family homes hold important lessons for policymakers. This policy brief outlines what researchers know about minimum-lot-size regulation, sketches out Houston’s unique system of urban land use regulation, and draws lessons from Houston’s successful experience with subdivision liberalization.

Keywords: housing, zoning law, housing policy, city planning, regulation, housing affordability

JEL Classification: R31, R28, O18, R52

Suggested Citation

Gray, M. Nolan and McBirney, Jessica, Liberalizing Land Use Regulations: The Case of Houston (August 1, 2020). Mercatus Policy Brief Series, Available at SSRN: or

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