Land-Use Zoning May Be Able to Reduce Crime in Urban Areas, Study Finds
Land-use zoning may be able to reduce crime in urban areas, study finds
Using zoning laws to shape the type of development and activity that occur in a neighborhood may be one way to reduce crime in urban areas, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
Studying high-crime areas in the city of Los Angeles, researchers found that city blocks that included both residential and commercial zoning purposes experienced less crime than nearby blocks zoned primarily for commercial purposes. Crime was lowest in blocks zoned for residential-only uses, even in relatively high crime neighborhoods.
The study found that single-use commercially zoned blocks in Los Angeles have crime rates that are 45 percent higher than similar blocks that include residential uses.
“At least in the case of a city like Los Angeles, zoning matters — an important fraction of reported crime is associated with the kind of zoning on a city block,” said James M. Anderson, the study’s lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “These results suggest both researchers and policymakers should pay more attention to the ways in which zoning and other land-use policies can affect crime.”
Policymakers have long debated the effect that city planning and zoning can have on crime. Some experts have urged diverse uses of land in order to create an urban environment that encourages “eyes on the street” to deter crime.