Much more promising is a Stanford study showing that conservation efforts didn't substantially reduce the housing stock in Silicon Valley:
It's no secret that the San Francisco Bay Area, where the median house price is $350,000, is home to expensive real estate. Developers have often blamed conservationists for the high costs by arguing that making land off-limits for new construction shrinks the area's housing supply and drives up prices.
But Stanford researchers say that argument holds little water. Only 51,000 more homes would have been built in the southern Bay Area's Silicon Valley if land had not been set aside by nonprofit groups and the government, they say.
In a study conducted by the university's Bill Lane Center for the American West, executive directorJon Christensen, sociology graduate student Carrie Denning and landscape ecologist Robert McDonald analyzed whether land conservation efforts in Silicon Valley – which has about 116,000 acres of protected parks, forests, waterfronts and wildlife refuges – have hurt housing development.
Their findings, published online in the journal Biological Conservation, suggest that land protection may not have much of an impact on the number of housing units available in the region. That's because most of the protected land isn't suitable for development, they say.