The Obama Administration weighed into the debate about overly restrictive zoning laws that has been riling up land use and development folks for decades – and pitting them against certain residents and neighbors for whom “Not In My Backyard” is just a polite cover-up for anger, suspicion, and fear mixed with politics and local personalities.
The President has released his Housing Development Toolkit which, according to NAR, urges things like “taxing vacant land or donating it to nonprofit developers; shortening permitting times; establishing density bonuses; enacting high-density and multifamily zoning; establishing development tax or value capture incentives; and using property tax abatement.”
POLITICO remarked that this report will land with an unwelcome thud on the desks of some environmental advocates, labor leaders, and others who are natural allies of a Democratic administration. And yet:
“…the country is facing a critical housing shortage in its most vibrant job centers. The result is soaring rents, growing income inequality and sputtering economic growth nationwide.”
When every idea must be “no”, when can you say “yes”?
Anyone who has attended enough city council meetings, planning commissions and your occasional school board or water district has come across the NIMBYs: The answer to every question may well be “No!”; there is no project – no matter how small – that escapes opposition and derision from those who just don’t want any change at all.
The results can be stalemate and gridlock. It is a poorly kept secret that the best way to derail a development is to complain about traffic, noise, density, and the like. The results are readily apparent in our real estate markets:
“The increasing severity of under-supplied housing markets is jeopardizing housing affordability for working families, exacerbating income inequality by reducing workers’ access to higher-wage labor markets, and stifling GDP growth by driving labor migration away from the most productive regions.”
– The White House, “Housing Development Toolkit”
Why is this important to Southern California and the South Bay? Astronomical housing prices and rents are well documented. SBAOR has been reporting just 6-8 weeks supply of inventory on hand for much of the last three years. Very few new housing units are coming online, and yet the demand continues to increase.
What do we do? This report, under the authority of the current presidential administration, will hopefully open a conversation that helps us meet the demand and make our communities a great place for everyone.