Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Urban planning destroys housing affordability

Urban Planning theories are far from reality. The reality is that urban planning results in less affordable housing and a lower quality of life for city-dwellers.  It is doubtful that urban planners will catch on to this truth because there is no incentive to do so.  Wide understanding of the issues might devestate the profession.

Research defies conventional wisdom that says intensification of land use (high density residential) will yield more affordable housing units; and that urban containment boundaries have little to no effect on housing prices as long as there are lands held in reserve to be used when necessary.

Notes from the New Geography website.

Urban containment, endangered working families and beleaguered minorities
By Wendell Cox. 10/04/2016

Much of this has to do, as explained below, with attempts to stop development on the urban periphery which is indispensable to keeping housing affordable. Such prohibitions have been widely advocated by the  planning establishment. Moreover, a new White House Housing Development Toolkit,  rightly identifies housing unaffordability as an important issue but does not mention the important role of greenfield development in keeping costs down.

Note 4: The planning establishment sometimes glosses over the reduced quality of life entailed in its efforts to discourage detached housing and force people into higher density housing. This is not their job. The quality of life can only be judged by households themselves.   Read more.

Two Cheers for NIMBYism
By Joel Kotkin. 10/17/2016

Politicians, housing advocates, planners and developers often blame the NIMBY — “not in my backyard” — lobby for the state’s housing crisis. And it’s true that some locals overreact with unrealistic growth limits that cut off any new housing supply and have blocked reasonable ways to boost supply.
But the biggest impediment to solving our housing crisis lies not principally with neighbors protecting their local neighborhoods, but rather with central governments determined to limit, and make ever more expensive, single-family housing. Economist Issi Romem notes that, based on the past, “failing to expand cities [to allow sprawl] will come at a cost” to the housing market.  
A density-only policy tends to raise prices, turning California into the burial ground for the aspirations of the young and minorities. This reflects an utter disregard for most people’s preferences for a single-family home — including millennials, particularly as they enter their 30s.  Read more.

New research supports the conclusion that anti-sprawl policy (urban containment policy) is incompatible with housing affordability. Build-zoom.com economist Issi Romem finds that: “Cities that have curbed their expansion have – with limited exception – failed to compensate with densification. As a result they have produced far less housing than they would otherwise, with severe national implications for housing affordability, geographic mobility and access to opportunity, all of which are keenly felt today as we approach the top of housing cycle.”  

Romem expressed concern to The Wall Street Journal“What you’ll get there is an exacerbation of the problems we already have in expensive cities. The distinction between homeowners and renters will become less and less a stage of life and more and more if your parents can help you.”  Read more 

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