Build, Baby, Build: A New Housing Movement’s Unofficial Motto

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Local control, as I wrote in my last column, can sometimes backfire. America’s affordable housing crisis is a prime example. The sensible response to rapid population growth and inflated prices in our cities is to build more housing. But thanks to a “not in my backyard” mentality that is supported by a hyper-local planning model, existing residents are able to resist new construction that promotes density…[read the rest at Governing]… Read more

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wiener

California State Senator Scott Wiener: ‘San Francisco’s Progressives Lost Their Way On Housing’

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Francisco, CA–Back in 2012, while spending a summer in San Francisco, I would attend the city’s Board of Supervisors meetings on a weekly basis. The big ongoing topic back then, like today, was the city’s housing shortage, and how it was escalating prices. It was amazing to hear the wave of counterproductive, even clueless, solutions that 10 of the 11 supervisors would suggest for the problem. These ranged from decreasing building densities, to strengthening bureaucratic review, to placing construction moratoriums on certain neighborhoods, to strengthening tenant protections that are already strict, and that have led landlords to abandon between 10,000 and 30,000 units citywide.… Read more

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austin

I Spent A Year Traveling Through America’s Fast-Growing Sunbelt

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

There’s a severe shift occurring right now in the United States. The Northeast and Midwest are ceding people to the South and West, with migrants moving particularly to America’s Sunbelt. Like with other global migration shifts, there is an underlying political context to all this. Regulations on housing construction and other economic activities are making certain northern cities hostile to all but elite income groups. Meanwhile, the more open southern economies are receiving the exodus, becoming more economically and culturally dynamic. For the last year, I’ve traveled through this southern slice of the country, witnessing all these changes at street level–and it’s been something to behold…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Yimby Nation: The Rise of America’s Pro-Housing Political Coalition

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Los Angeles, CA—America’s burgeoning pro-housing movement has many layers, and I recently witnessed one of them firsthand on a rare rainy night in Los Angeles. The activist group Abundant Housing LA was hosting its monthly meeting in a south-side Latino food mart, serving what seems to be the mandatory SoCal culinary combo for social settings, tacos and beer. The event featured a 4-person panel of local land-use experts, and another 50 attendees, who were united around a common cause: loosening land-use regulations to build more housing.… Read more

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When Local Control Backfires

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Many political analysts believe that local government is the best government. The act of delegating responsibilities to states and localities is thought to increase accountability by putting governments closer to the people. But local governance can backfire, especially when parochial interests trump larger regional concerns. Nowhere is this more evident than in housing, where prices are skyrocketing in many U.S. cities…[read the rest at Governing Magazine]… Read more

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Oakland’s Warehouse Tragedy Resulted From Too Little Housing Construction

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

In the time since a warehouse fire killed 36 people in Oakland, several lengthy media reports have provided valuable context. As the cover story of this past weekend’s Los Angeles Times noted, the reason that so many people in Oakland live in illegal warehouses, amid unsafe conditions, is because they can’t afford anything else in the nation’s 4th priciest rental market. What these articles didn’t report–or misrepresented–was how prices got so high. Since 2010, Oakland, like much of the Bay Area, hasn’t even remotely allowed housing construction to meet population growth, causing, as the numbers show, a blatant imbalance…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Nativism: The Thread That Connects Progressive NIMBYs With Donald Trump

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Who does this sound like? A group dealing with economic disruption decides that, rather than addressing its problems internally, it will blame outsiders. So the group adopts a nativist stance, looking to build walls, enforce regulations and impose taxes that discourage outside people and goods. The group also adopts a reactionary cultural conservatism, legitimizing stagnancy as a means to preserve “heritage” and “character.” Is this the mentality driving much of Donald Trump’s support base, and America’s turn towards “Trumpism”? Surely it’s a factor. But at the urban level, it describes a group that generally hates Trump, yet mirrors his thinking; that is, progressives who preach openness, yet keep new people out of their neighborhood through NIMBYism…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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San Antonio: Growth And Success In The Mexican-American Capital

[Originally printed in the San Antonio Business Journal (paywall) and republished by the Center for Opportunity Urbanism]

 

[Ed’s note: this was part of a larger project by Joel Kotkin’s think tank, the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, to explain the growth of Texas’ cities. Scott’s essay is on pg. 40 of the pdf.]

 

San Antonio, TX — For decades, as many U.S. cities declined, and others became overly exclusive, cities in Texas evolved into places of opportunity. Due in large part to liberalized economic policies, the state’s “Big Four” metro areas — Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio — consistently rank among the nation’s leaders in population growth and job growth, experiencing the rapid urbanization once common among America’s legacy cities.… Read more

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Here’s Why Your Home Is 24% Overpriced

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

There is overwhelming academic literature saying that government regulations cause higher housing costs. I wrote an article weeks ago listing about two dozen studies that identified multiple types of regulation, and the effects they had on increasing prices, exacerbating inequality, and forcing unwanted lifestyle shifts. Some additional data published recently is more granular, analyzing not only the effects, say, of zoning, but of impact fees, building codes, design reviews, bureaucratic delays and more. The paper’s alarming conclusion is that government regulation adds 24.3% to the average price of new homes in America…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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The Verdict Is In: Land Use Regulations Increase Housing Costs

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

This past Monday, September 26, could prove to be a landmark day in the political discussion about urban America’s housing woes. On that day, the connection between land-use regulations and higher housing costs, long made by urbanist bloggers and think-tankers, was finally acknowledged by a sitting president, when the Obama administration published the report “Housing Development Toolkit.” Rather than echoing past presidential administrations, and thinking up all the ways that the federal government could subsidize homeownership, the report listed why homes are so expensive in the first place: restrictive zoning, bureaucratic delay and other regulations.… Read more

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