Posts Tagged ‘land use and zoning’

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

Housing roundup

  • “One year ago, Portland enacted inclusionary zoning. One year later, “apartment construction in Portland has fallen off a cliff.”” [@michael_hendrix citing Dirk VanderHart, Portland Mercury] Better policy is to focus on building supposedly unaffordable housing [Scott Sumner]
  • Intractable problems of residential zoning and of public schooling in the U.S. have a great deal to do with each other [Salim Furth, American Affairs]
  • New NBER study “suggests building energy codes hurt the poor, too” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]
  • Upzoning of Dumbo helped catalyze Brooklyn’s revival [Ira Stoll] How Henry George and followers influenced NYC property and tax policy, and the tax deal that helped touch off the Manhattan building boom of the 1920s [Daniel Wortel-London, The Metropole]
  • How to live in some apartments forever without paying, and more tips for unscrupulous NYC tenants [Jeremiah Budin, Curbed]
  • For “but,” read “therefore”: “Marin County has long resisted growth in the name of environmentalism. But high housing costs and segregation persist.” [David Henderson, quoting]

“Detroit just banned Airbnb without anyone knowing it”

Infuriating: Detroit says it will take a pause for legal review before enforcing a new zoning ordinance that would ban homeowners through much of the city from accepting AirBnB rentals. The ordinance would interpret rentals as home-based businesses, which are disallowed in residential zones, and on its face appears to prohibit taking in even friends or relatives to share quarters if the person pays rent. Following a public outcry, the city council put out word that it does not intend to ban AirBnB and will amend the ordinance if necessary to avoid that. [Tom Perkins/Metro Times, Robin Runyan, Curbed Detroit, Deadline Detroit]

Housing roundup

  • “The Rent is Too High and the Commute is Too Long: We Need Market Urbanism” [Andrew Criscione, Market Urbanism] Is excessive regulation making it costly to build starter homes? Ask the New York Times [Ira Stoll]
  • Good: Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Paul Gosar have introduced a bill to eliminate outright the Obama administration’s meddlesome AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) rule [Vanessa Brown Calder, earlier]
  • “Dollar home” programs show mostly sparse results in urban revitalization, especially when regulatory strings come attached [Jared Alves, Greater Greater Washington]
  • Too radical to pass? Bill 827 in California would impose upzoning on transit corridors [Ilya Somin] California wildfires will worsen Bay Area housing shortage, but where’d that shortage come from? [Enrico Moretti, NYT] “Why Does Land-Use Regulation (Still) Matter in Oregon?” [Calder, Cato]
  • New from NBER: “Rent Control Raises Housing Costs” [Charles Hughes, Economics21] Study “provides strong evidence of rent control’s damaging effects” [Calder]
  • “Blockchain technology can empower public and private efforts to register property rights on a single computer platform,” with particular benefits for poorer societies in which property rights remain ill-defined [Phil Gramm and Hernando de Soto, WSJ/AEI, Arnold Kling] “The U.S. property title system is a disgrace. It could be fixed with blockchain. But it also could be fixed without blockchain.” [Kling]