Policy, Preference and Practicality: An Investigation into Millennial Housing Choice, and the Policies and Practicalities of Densifying Development in California

Land use is a critical determinant of how much people drive. To actually achieve reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from more compact development, (1) the physical structures must be built in the right places, (2) enough people who live in less dense areas must be willing and able to move to denser areas and drive less there, and (3) the current inhabitants of denser areas must be willing and able to remain there even as their circumstances change. This dissertation research investigates these three necessities – and strategies to accomplish them – through three studies:

1. An interview-based study of why millennials choose to live where they do, and how they make that location decision.

2. An analysis of how much one impending California regulatory change intended to make it easier to approve low-VMT development – moving from a level-of-service-based to a VMT-based method of measuring transportation impacts in project-level environmental reviews – will actually streamline approvals, and for what type of projects.

3. A survey-based study of homeowners’ knowledge about accessory dwelling units (ADUs), the barriers they perceive to adding them, and what differentiates homeowners who have added or would be willing to add ADUs from those that are not.


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