This dissertation seeks to understand the prolong question, "why local communities adopt or change land use policies." The previous literature has provided partial and incomplete explanations about this issue. Property rights model does not explicitly consider the role of institutions and community interests while interest group models tend to put communities’ physical characteristics as control variables. Because political economy view concentrates on the political variations, they consider social and economic variables lightly. More importantly, they all ignore the role of informal institutions on local land use policy change. They are not wrong; rather they just provide partial explanations. To integrate those partial explanations and understand fully the land use policy world, it is required to construct a more comprehensive framework. In this research, I used the political market framework built upon Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework to establish a comprehensive framework for local land use policy.
Political market framework based on the IAD framework is a useful tool to integrate those partial aspects into a framework. Local land use policy decision, which creates distributional conflicts among community members, is a political process. In the process, various actors interact for articulating their preferences in a land use policy. Political market approach provides a useful tool to understand what values these actors have and how they are articulated in a land use policy. Political system of local governments works as formal institutions to provide incentives or constraints to a land use policy.
To test why local land use policies are changed pro-environmental, I identify the variations of local comprehensive amendments in Florida cities. Comprehensive plans are policies since they constrain "who gets what." Local governments change their plans in a certain direction (pro-environmental) because they have their own institutional arrangements, community characteristics, and physical characteristics. To test the influences of these variables, I tested two models: Panel Probit Model for conservation amendments; Heckman Selection Model for the ratio of large to small scale amendments of future land use map. The results show that institutions really matter in local land use policy change. Strong mayor, district election type, turnovers of council members, and administrative capacity influence pro-environmental policy changes. The most important find is that informal institutions of social capital also constrain actors, or provide pro-environmental incentives to the local actors. In addition, community interests and physical characteristics are not ignorable. They have also significant influence on the policy change. From this research, I found that these community interests can be easily articulated in a land use policy when they go through particular institutions. Interaction terms provide that various pro-environmental interests are moderated by mayor form of government and election type as well as informal institutions.
Another important finding is that rule should be considered as a configurational form, not an additive form. I define strong mayor council form from the consideration of other relevant rules such as mayor elected directly, administrative power, appointment and budget power, and veto power, even though it is still limited configuration. Only the form of government that a city charter provides does not work well in a complex political system.
This study has academic and practical significance. First, by integrating four models and constructing a more comprehensive explanation, this study brings sharper theory and better understanding to local land use policy. Second, the influence of institutions has been limited to formal institutions. Adding informal institutions in the framework may provide more consistent impact of institutions on local land use policy change. Third, using dynamic interaction terms in the framework proves how institutions matter on community interests as well as additive influence of institutions on policy outcome. Finally and practically, this study may provide some clues about the solutions to environmental preservation and efficient growth management practices. Formal institutions matter since it shape incentives and constraints on policy actors. However, those institutions need much of transaction costs to be established and changed. Informal institutions, even though it is not constructed easily, play roles to reduce transaction costs of addressing problems and distributional conflicts, and provide and more efficient way to local administration of growth management.