Our shared future rests in large part on what we do with the land beneath our feet. How we use it, and how we care for it.

The Partnership for Land Use Insights’ analysis of empirical data provides the actionable insight leaders need to achieve their goals—climate, equity, affordability, and more—for the land on which we live.

Human activity is driving global climate disruption. Now more than ever, we need data that helps us carefully make use of land to reduce sprawl and its resulting carbon emissions, wildfire damage, and protect the forests, ecosystems, working lands, and water that we all depend on.

And structural racism and classism continue to play a critical role in where people live, work, and play. We want our data to unlock ways to interrupt the policy patterns of segregation, displacement, and exclusion, and instead to increase opportunity.

While many communities have set goals for how they’ll use land—such as affordability, equity, and climate goals around housing—there was only patchwork data and anecdotal evidence to show whether they’re local policy was meeting or falling short of these goals.

We amass and assess the data needed to shed light on the practices and policies of local governments, to reveal how they’re advancing—or inadvertently thwarting—their land use goals for housing, climate, and more. We offer the tools for transparency that make it possible for leaders to measure progress and identify what, specifically, needs to be adjusted.

Our work is data-driven and objective, grounded in robust, high-quality data sets. We base our conclusions on empirical evidence, not anecdotal evidence. And we use interdisciplinary, mixed research methods, drawing from multiple sources and perspectives to create more meaningful—and actionable—analysis.

Policy is an incredibly powerful lever for change—but only if it moves from paper to practice. And no one can know whether that’s happening without good data.

We call on local and state leaders to use sound data and methods to evaluate policy in practice. To build into their budgets the regular collection and analysis of empirical, meaningful, actionable data. Only then can they see if their land use outcomes are matching their goals—and be able to pivot if not.

Not only will this create much-needed transparency and accountability, it will bring us closer to a future where every child can grow up in a safe home, near opportunity for a better future.


The Partnership for Land Use Insight’s principal researchers are professors Moira O’Neill of the University of Virginia and Eric Biber of the University of California, Berkeley. Over the years, core research team members also included Raine Robichaud and Giulia Gualco-Nelson. Numerous students over the years have supported data collection and analysis.

Professor Nick Marantz at University of California, Irvine, has also led supplemental quantitative analysis of CALES data. Dr. Narae Lee provided critical support to verify geolocation data and clean data. Dr. Huixin Zheng supported data cleaning and led regression analysis of CALES data and Zillow's Transaction and Assessment Database to answer important questions about the relationship between regulation and housing cost appreciation. 


Please email questions about any content on this website, the study, or forthcoming papers.