Reducing Vehicles Miles Traveled Through In-fill: How Regional and Local Plans are Addressing Housing Needs While Mitigating Negative Unintended Impacts on Disadvantaged Communities

While there is significant anecdotal evidence and conjecture about the potential for negative impacts of densifying existing urban areas of California, robust research is needed to estimate how much of the new housing is being planned in disadvantaged communities, what are the negative impacts of such housing on the existing communities in these areas, and what actions are being or could be taken to mitigate these negative impacts. Using two major California regions—San Francisco Bay Area (represented by Metropolitan Transportation Commission-Association of Bay Area Governments, MTC-ABAG) and Los Angeles Metropolitan Area (represented by Southern California Association of Government, SCAG)—as case studies, this research a) examines the extent to which new housing is being planned in disadvantaged communities, historically redlined communities, and low-income and communities of color (all four hereafter referred to as “disadvantaged communities”); (b) analyzes the potential for negative consequences of high concentrations of new housing in these communities, (c) reviews the existing toolkit (e.g., plan, policies, strategies, and funding) available for avoiding negative unintended consequences of such housing concentration, and d) proposes additional tools to mitigate these consequences. The specific research questions include:

  • RQ1: To what extent new housing is planned in disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southern California regions?
  • RQ2: What are the potential negative unintended consequences of high concentrations of new housing in these regions?
  • RQ3: What tools (e.g., plans, policies, and strategies) are available to avoid negative unintended consequences of this housing concentration and what is the opinion of regional and local government staff about their effectiveness?
  • RQ4: How the existing tools could be strengthened and what additional tools could be used to further mitigate the unintended negative consequences?
San José State University
Principal Investigator: 
Shishir Mathur
PI Contact Information:

San Jose State University

Project Number: 



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