I live in a rural area and the city and county put up huge road blocks to building legally while a tremendous number of trailers and shacks are spread about the landscape.
But, BUT!, if someone is looking at find a way OUT of America's horrible housing conundrum, more cheap housing on cheap land is terrible, horrible, a nightmare.
I mean, the reason that my county scams new builders for $30-50K just to start is that the county's infrastructure bill has become unsustainable, like America in general has become unsustainable.
The American love affair with low-density development is going to leave this country drowned in a pool of opioid induced vomit if things turn don't around in the next 10-20 years.
Effectively, the history of settlement of this country and government policy result in a freeway-subdivision-strip-mall model of development that is unsustainable on a practical, literal level. That is; outer-ring development involves investments fated to evaporate into nothing. The capital of America's once glorious middle class has become smoke from this effect.
The only path to things not imploding worse than they already have is to create high density urban development and the infrastructure needed to support it. A lot will have to change for that to happen. But as Margaret Thatcher said, "There is no alternative".
I'm not so sure that's a good idea. On one hand, I like the general principle of fairness at work and that a person shouldn't have to absorb the loss of the value of a major asset simply because of an arbitrary rule change. On the other hand, I don't think governments should have to pay costs associated with fixing bad rules or addressing an injustice. Also, if government has to pay for rule changes that reduce the value of a property, should they also receive payments from property owners when a rule change increases the value of a property?
Yes, this is called "value capture." Bargaining with developers to extract concessions like affordable units (BMR), community spaces (POPOs), neighborhood maintenance (CBDs), and donations to anti-development activist groups is the bread and butter of development politics.
Since developers are universally and vigorously despised, this is a great source of funding. If a project still pencils out, the community gets some extra services without having to raise taxes. And if the project doesn't pencil out anymore, the community is usually happy about that too.
AZ's POFA 2006 (and equiv in other states) sounds like Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision in NAFTA.
Fortunately, it appears most of those cases, like when Methanex sued the USA for $970m when California banned MTBE, were dismissed on the basis that democratic governments should be able to decide things.
Don't they already through increased property taxes? In fact, if some rule reduces the value of their property, perhaps the best compensation would be a property tax reduction or even rebate?
I think the long term shift of revenue from property taxes alone have been observed to be insufficient to properly influence the market behavior - that makes a fair bit of sense since mayoral terms are almost never twice the mandatory reassessment window and sometimes don't even exceed the standard length between reassessments.
But anyway, the city certainly doesn't get the value increase back in taxes, and you could presumably sell your property and capture the increase before paying more than a fraction back in tax.
And really, why would that be unexpected? As the value of the house rises, the services that can be provided increase, often on direct demand of those house owners themselves (they want good/better schools, for example).
It's extremely weird, but seems to be accurate, that the US is the only place on earth where people become less trusted via the action of taking on public service responsibility.
The American tax burden isn't really that bad compared to everywhere else in the developed world, especially for the facilities that we demand (huge houses, less density, lots of roads, nice schools with football stadiums, etc...).
It's a lottery ticket. Sure, it's good for people grandfathered in. It's terrible for new people to the city. It's also terrible for landlords who have a building put in rent control.
I know everyone thinks landlords are evil, but you can't have rentals without a landlord. And no one is going to invest in rentals if they don't think it's a good investment.
And if you want to incentivize people to put down roots and stay in one place for a while, home ownership is almost always a better option over a 3+ year horizon.
Rent control also incentivizes landlords to neglect their properties. Again, something that doesn't seem good for the community.
You can't get something from nothing. Landlords aren't going to subsidize housing for people. The government already does that, probably at too high of a degree already.
You've framed your response using a capitalist response - why would I spend money if it wasn't going to return more than I spent. I'm suggesting you look through other lenses - housing as a necessity or social good. Housing as a coop. Housing as a charity (e.g. Helping a refugee family by housing them.)
Because such groups already exist in small numbers - it's not like the existence of capitalist landlords prevents coops or charities from existing.
Us. If we think housing people is important. Increasing taxes, reducing spending on other areas, etc.
It's interesting to me that people seem to always ask, "How are we going to pay for this?" when HUD's entire budget is ~$60B/year. Compared to the $1,100B/year we spend on defense, it seems like we could make some pretty small adjustments there and have some pretty huge impacts.
The mortgage credit, for instance, disproportionately goes to wealthy people and is costing us ~$10B a year. Rework that to be less regressive and actually focus on developing housing and you've have made a huge impact on HUD's bottom line.
That's not exactly charity and coops anymore.
The only reason to favor government construction over private construction is that it'll be subsidized for the poor, unless you somehow think the government will be better at building apartments than a private developer. (Whether that be a coop, charity or for-profit, they all have incentives to make things actually work while not breaking the bank - the government generally doesn't)
Read up on Red Vienna, social housing in Paris/Belgium, and some of the successful scattered site and suburban public housing efforts in the US.
My understanding is that projects are overall very efficient. I'm aware that they cost more per unit than a rural home in the middle of nowhere, both up-front and on-going. But a rural home in the middle of nowhere costs a fortune in services paid for with taxes, on-going.
You can build in denser areas and still not have to maintain a building like a tenement.
SF has its own way of discouraging development via long discretionary review processes.
You're right though that the review process and other regulations such as the requirement for some percentage of affordable housing units is also quite significant.
I like to consider myself a good person, but I have zero interest in renting housing to people at a loss.
I know people can use some help, but I'm not that rich and life is too short.
I encourage you to think beyond one or two examples where things have gone wrong and instead try to figure out how you could take the fundamental idea and improve it.
Once a place gets rich enough to where they can justify micromanaging what goes where (poor places mostly have bigger fish to fry and are happy to have any tax paying development) it artificially constrains supply. Then they double down by tacking on rent control to slow the death spiral but it just makes it worse.
When I was slightly younger, I might have grumbled that things like the International Residential Code or the National Electric Code were a bunch of stupid rules getting in the way of the eminently reasonable thing I wanted to do, rules made by otherwise useless busybodies with nothing better to do with their time. That is not my attitude today.
As I've been pulled into various wiring or handyman projects by family & friends, had a chance to actually read some of the bits of the IRC or NEC, and even lost my home to an apartment fire, I understand now that a lot of what I might have previously decried as stupid rules actually make sense from an engineering or safety perspective. These rules are informed by experience. And while violating some of the rules or recommendations can result in only minor annoyances, other violations can be dangerous, costing lives in an emergency and even making emergencies more likely.
There's a saying that I've heard from pilots, "The FAR is written in blood". More generally that is, the rules are the way they are because not doing it that way resulted in people dying. And I think the same holds true for a not-insignificant portion of building code today.
I'm not saying we shouldn't be willing to question and criticize building code to make sure it isn't being needlessly restrictive, and that it's living up to its goal of making for safe, effective home design. But I think we should also be willing to concede that some of the rules in building codes are a Good Thing, even if it means that some of the ways we've achieved housing density in the past can't be done as cheaply anymore, or at all.
1. Federal Aviation Regulations
99 year leaseholds until recently..now Singapore citizens can purchase these public Housing flats. Everyone is housed according to their means. 78.7% of the population is housed in public housing at various home plans and sizes.
(The law allows for duplexes to be built in single-family areas without rezoning.)
Absent that, and maintaining subsidies for driving, you get Houston or Phoenix like sprawl.
HB 2001 allows up to 4-plexes in many cities.
You could actually get a lot of housing out of that kind of development, it turns out: https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/add-housing-by-allowing...
Which makes sense, as most places in Europe are way more land-constrained than the US and manage to house people by growing up and in, rather than only out.
With the right architecture, even hot places, like, say, Seville, Spain, are pretty nice for pedestrians.
Transportation should be a "right tool for the job" thing, rather than "well since I can't go to Costco with my 4 kids on a bike, bikes are totally useless for everyone" thing.
Phoenix could've invested in trees and shade, and less in concrete to absorb the heat, and it could be much more bearable.
Article doesn't mention Minneapolis' reforms vis a vis exclusionary zoning either. Seems like another big omission.
"Between 2011 and 2017, some of the world’s largest private-equity groups and hedge funds ... spent a combined $36 billion on more than 200,000 homes in ailing markets across the country. In one Atlanta zip code, they bought almost 90 percent of the 7,500 homes sold between January 2011 and June 2012; today, institutional investors own at least one in five single-family rentals in some parts of the metro area"
People don't want to live there because there isn't any economic opportunity. There isn't any economic opportunity because we shipped the jobs overseas.
Then, when the system finally imploded and people could no longer make their mortgage payments, the taxpayers bailed out the banks that were making money hand over fist.
"According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, lightly-regulated Houston has seen its civilian labor force grow by 20 percent in the last decade, compared to the San Francisco metro area's 16 percent. Some 21 Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Houston. What's more, for every job the Houston metro area has added, it's also permitted another unit of housing. As a result, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $841, and home prices are below the national average."
From here :
It's not rocket science. If you want affordable housing make it easy for people to build and increase supply. It's remarkable how Silicon Valley is all about solving big problems for the world but demonstrates with Bay Area housing that some problems don't need technology, they just need reasonable government and if you don't have that, well, things don't work.
To be fair, this problem is global. Many places that are doing well that haven't allowed enough construction like London, Sydney, Stockholm, Melbourne, Paris and other places demonstrate the same failure to enable enough housing construction.
I've always loved this article, which mentions Houston, and discusses that it's one of many ways to add enough supply: https://www.sightline.org/2017/09/21/yes-you-can-build-your-...
My parents' hometown of 7000 in the (very lower middle class) exhurbs was slated for around 300 new housing next to the train station. As usual everyone was upset at the town halls because "it will add traffic" "they are too dense", "it will degrade our quality of life", they got overriden, the houses & apartments got built anyway, and good riddance.
I've been to the exact same town halls in the bay area with the same bullshit arguments, except people end up with the power to actually make those projects not happen.
When Houston wants another housing unit, they just sprawl out into the plains to make it happen. (Not incidentally, this is why the city was devastated by the last hurricane: huge portions of it sprawl into floodplains.)
The San Francisco height / bulk map is pretty enlightening. https://sfgov.org/sfplanningarchive/zoning-map-heightbulk-di...
All those light colored areas are max 40 feet.
It’s why it’s cheaper to live in Brooklyn than Manhattan, even though Brooklyn is mostly low-rise construction.
However there are important second order effects to consider too. The density is a big part of the appeal of Manhattan. If it was lower then it might push economic activity away and make people not want to live there as much. Maybe finance sector might move to say Chicago. This would push prices down.
Yes, Manhattan is more desirable than Brooklyn. It’s desirable for many different reasons; scarcity is a big reason.
Would Manhattan be even more expensive if it didn’t have skyscrapers? Sure. But it’s irrelevant to my point: skyscrapers are not a magical panacea to housing prices. Objectively, factually, a short subway commute lowers prices significantly in NYC, even if you’re commuting to a land of low-density construction. Thus, again we
see that Land is the high-order bit on real estate prices. Aways was, always will be. Everything else is a detail.
If SF is to fix it’s housing crisis, there are exactly two ways: reduce demand, or
increase accessible land area. The only way to effectively do the latter is good transit. All of the rest of this stuff is wishful thinking by people who don’t understand real estate.
Neither is Silicon Valley.
This is a tired argument that has been debunked many times before.
As soon as people view “San Francsico” and “the valley” as the same place, you might have an argument. Right now, the only people who believe this are people who haven’t spent any time there.
Building more housing in Palo Alto might help Palo Alto, but it won’t do much for prices in SF.
And there is a lot of single family housing in SF alone that can be converted into 6 story apartment buildings. Plentttyyy of space available for the demand. By-right up zoning with a 30 day limit on permitting processes would do miracles for housing affordability here, but the Olds want to profit off the immigrants and cast their neighborhoods in amber.
Also the cheapest form of housing construction as far as sqft and price / unit is the fourplex. Housing cost is mostly land price & bureaucracy here, not the cost of construction, so many developers will find 6+ floor apartment buildings feasible.
Ask a 30-something FAANG employee living in SF if they’d take a nice Menlo Park apartment over their place in the Mission. Or Palo Alto. Or even South SF. It’s just bizarre to suggest that these are equivalent.
But almost nobody will live in Reno, Salt Lake and commute daily via airplane to menlo park. You might find the 3 outliers on the news who do this, but I've never met or found anyone who actually does. The ones that have a life in a city that is a flight away will tend to rent a room in the work city and fly over once a week, thus participating in the local housing market.
This commute distance limitation creates the city labor and housing market, and thus people who work in Mountain View would consider living in Santa Cruz, Berkley or San Jose, but they won't actually live in New York and fly over daily to make a silly example.
Within any city itself, local variations exist. There are bad neighborhoods, nice neighborhoods. Party ones, not party ones. Big mansions and small studio apartments. Places close to lucrative jobs (mountain view) and ones that are far away but still commutable for the price a very long commute (Stockton). They will all be available in a housing market, but because they all participate in the same market, the supply / demand equation will still apply and thus set them all within a certain range of each other. An identical mansion in reno is a lot cheaper than the mansion in atherton for very good reasons.
Jobs are what determine the demand for housing in a city, and interaction of that demand with the supply of housing available is what sets the price of housing in a place.
Have you ever taken a economics class? I would suggest reading a book like order without design (twitter preview: https://twitter.com/devonzuegel/status/1079407914715103232 ) to understand how cities work and to take some sort of econmics 101 class with the many online resources out there.
I'm not happy about what happened either, but what do you think would have happened if none of the banks had been bailed out?
We finally could have clawed back the economy from the banking class with widespread bankruptcies. Could you imagine if 30% or more people had a bankruptcy recently? It would totally wreck the credit bureaus too.
It's not just that manufacturing jobs have left. Every time we empty some mine of the last bit of ore, you get a town no one particularly wants to live in anymore. Every increase in agricultural efficiency results in fewer farmers, and thus less reason to live in rural farm towns.
As a French person, what makes most of the US's subburbs ugly is the fact that home owners have too much choice in how they build they house, and towns end up being a mix match of stuff that's pretty ugly on average.
You would have to look at land, material, and labor costs at the time the majority of the homes were built.
Never been near the area but wouldn't those restrictions just be a termite thing?