Posts Tagged ‘land use and zoning’

California’s rent control temptation

Even if California voters defeat Proposition 10 on Nov. 6, battles over rent control are likely to continue, I write in my new Cato post:

Though once favored in voter surveys, Proposition 10 has sagged lately, well behind in one poll and ahead in a second by only 41-38 with 21 percent undecided. But advocates of liberty (and all who prize the lessons of Economics 101) shouldn’t get complacent. …

It’s true that many California localities, the Bay Area especially, are experiencing skyrocketing housing costs. That has a lot to do with intense demand to live and work in places like Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and even more to do with the tight regulatory lid on new residential construction that artificially suppresses the supply of dwellings in the state generally and especially in desirable communities and near the coast. By shifting the blame for the resulting situation to owners of existing rental units, rent control would make it even less likely that Bay Area and coastal governments will take the one measure that would be effective against spiraling housing costs, namely legalizing much more new construction.

Whole thing here. Related: “What does economic evidence tell us about the effects of rent control?” [Rebecca Diamond, Brookings]

Environment roundup

Environment roundup

  • End of the road at last for Steven Donziger, impresario of Chevron/Ecuador litigation? [Joe Nocera, Bloomberg]
  • Building expensive housing improves housing availability at every income level [Sonja Trauss, Market Urbanism Report]
  • “Ms. Durst did what any law-abiding citizen would do: She demolished the structure and tossed the twigs, moss and shells into the woods…. The fairy house wasn’t up to code.” [Ellen Byron, WSJ, courtesy Regulatory Transparency Project]
  • Last month’s judicial rejection of NYC climate suit came after plenty of foreshadowing [Daniel Fisher (“persuasive authorities” were two overturned court decisions); New York Daily News and New York Post editorials]
  • Ban on smoking in public housing reflects truism that unless you own property, your home isn’t really your castle [Shane Ferro, Above the Law]
  • Obama-era Waters of the U.S. regulations are a power grab asserting EPA control over farmers’ ditches, seasonal moist depressions, and watering holes; one federal court has now reinstated the rules, but the issue is headed to SCOTUS and Congress in any case ought to kill them [Jonathan Adler; Ariel Wittenberg, E&E News; earlier]

HUD’s Carson to localities: stop throttling housing availability

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is pressing local governments to ease barriers to housing construction, which might turn out to be a genuinely progressive stance in a period in which housing costs are soaring in many in-demand cities, led by the West Coast. One reason for HUD to take notice of these local barriers to building is that by artificially driving up rents and construction costs, they drive up the cost of HUD’s own programs: “the most-restrictively zoned states receive nearly twice the federal dollars per capita compared to the least-restrictively zoned states…Determining whether attaching requirements to grants is a constitutionally-sound strategy is best decided by a legal expert. However, Carson’s new focus on educating policy makers on the damaging consequences of local policy, while acknowledging HUD cannot overcome local problems by spending money, is a welcome change.” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]

More/related: Tyler Cowen (on New York Times coverage), Elijah Chiland, Curbed L.A., and Ilya Somin on introduction of bill by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to discourage exclusionary zoning by attaching strings to the (itself highly dubious) $3.3 billion federal Community Development Block Grant program.

“County compels 91-year-old woman to tear down home wheelchair ramp”

Following the law wherever it leads in Maryland: “Prince George’s County filed a legal case against a Laurel couple in their 90s over a wheelchair ramp in their own home. To avoid legal trouble, the elderly couple’s son tore down the ramp, trapping the woman in her own home. The county permitting department said the family had no permit to build a wheelchair ramp in front of their own home.” [WJLA]

Land use and real estate roundup

  • Political fight brewing in California over ballot initiative that would pave way for bringing back rent control [Michael Hendrix, City Journal]
  • “Metes and bounds” method of describing legal property boundaries has been much derided, but new archival research from American colonial period suggests its benefits then were greater and costs lower than might appear [Maureen (Molly) Brady, SSRN, forthcoming Yale Law Journal] Just for fun: street grid orientation (or lack thereof) in major cities expressed as polar charts [Geoff Boeing]
  • “Alexandria, Virginia Gets Housing Affordability Wrong” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]
  • Houston does not zone but it does subsidize deed restrictions. Is that good? [Nolan Gray, Market Urbanism]
  • Great moments in historic preservation: “Silver Lake gas station moves toward landmark status” but connoisseurs say it’s not nearly as choice as the three service stations previously landmarked in L.A. [Curbed Los Angeles]
  • “America’s Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation” [Scott Beyer]

Environment roundup

“Sacramento Wants to Boost Rail Ridership By Banning Drive-Throughs and Gas Stations Near Transit”

It’s almost as if making life inconvenient for drivers is seen as a goal in itself: “City staff [in California’s capital city of Sacramento] are drafting an ordinance that would ban building new gas stations, drive-throughs, and other auto-related businesses within a quarter mile of any of the city’s 23 light rail stations. …Other businesses ‘not considered transit-supportive’ — car lots, auto repair businesses, manufacturing sites, wholesale outlets — would still be allowed, but only if the city grants them a special permit.” [Christian Britschgi, Reason]

Land use and development roundup