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The Socioeconomic Effects of the Moraga Open Space Ordinance & the Balance Between Municipal Prerogatives & Regional Responsibilities
Client: Ellman, Burke & Cassidy
dashed line separator Gruen Gruen + Associates (GG+A) conducted research and analyzed the direct and indirect impacts of the Moraga Open Space Ordinance (MOSO) on a 404-acre, 110-unit residential development in Moraga, (CA). The study addressed Moraga's residential land use policy and the Town's ability to meet their stated 5- and 10-year housing need goals with and without MOSO, in an attempt to reach an opinion on MOSO's consistency with the Town's General Plan. By conducting an extensive residential market analysis, interviewing local developers, and analyzing the Town's residential approval process, GG+A estimated the expected pace and number of residential dwelling units that will be built in Moraga with and without MOSO.

In considering the regional impacts of MOSO, we compared the development standards of MOSO with those of the surrounding hillside communities. In connection with the likely demonstration effect of this ordinance, GG+A addressed both the direct and indirect regional welfare effects of MOSO. Among other things, we considered the regional transportation, housing market, and labor supply effects of MOSO.

The study concluded that MOSO will restrict housing production within the Town of Moraga, causing an increasing short fall in the Town's stated housing need goal. Likewise, the study concluded that MOSO will have regional welfare effects as it demonstrates to other communities unreasonable methods of restricting housing development. In turn, these regional effects will increase commutation, induce long-run labor shortages, and limit the ability of upwardly mobile middle income households to purchase homes in better neighborhoods.

The results of this study were presented as evidence and were the basis for Dr. Claude Gruen's expert testimony in the Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa case of Northwood Homes, Inc. vs. Town of Moraga.

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