Friday, April 27, 2007
Free market theory assumes that there is, in effect, an unlimited supply of choices. But one asset that clearly is not in infinite supply is land. The fact that there may be little space for low-cost housing in a region supports the idea of "inclusionary zoning."
Meanwhile, local governments are rapidly realizing that one of the best ways to keep expenditures -- and thus taxes -- low is discourage developments that appeal to families with children. What could be a better "public welfare" initiative than to keep taxes low?
An unholy alliance is spurring the boom in "age-restricted" communities, usually referring to 55-years-old-and-up developments. These communities are popular with older people (a group whose numbers are mushrooming with the coming of age of baby-boomers). They are also popular with local governments, who encourage them as a way to keep out families with school kids.
Sure, it's unlawful for either government or the private sector to discriminate, even through a "disparate impact," on the basis of race, sex, or religion. But fairly blatant discrimination against younger people and families with children still passes muster in most states. One story about a town that may wish to swim upstream is Trumbull, Conn., which is considering a moratorium on age-restricted communities. Watch this space …
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