Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hills & Schleicher: Can ‘Planning’ Deregulate Land Use?

Roderick M. Hills Jr. (NYU) and David Schleicher (Yale) have a new article, "Can 'Planning' Deregulate Land Use?" in this month's edition of the Cato Institute's Regulation magazine that will be of interest to blog readers.  Here are the first few paragraphs:

New York City’s deal with Alma Realty was a “game-changer,” Mayor Bill de Blasio boasted in his November 2014 State of the City speech. The city, the mayor said, had shown that it can drive a hard bargain with real estate developers by demanding 456 units of affordable housing in exchange for approving Alma’s 1,700–residential unit “Astoria Cove” megaproject in West Queens. His implication was that, through tough project-by-project bargaining, the city could force developers to solve New York’s housing affordability crisis by supplying belowmarket-rate housing in exchange for greater building rights.

But upon more careful inspection, Astoria Cove looks a lot more like the same old big-city zoning game rather than a gamechanger. Alma spent millions on well-connected lobbyists to dicker with the city over percentages of below-market-price units. The bargaining process took years. The mega-project was located on marginal land far from any “NIMBY” (“Not in my backyard!”) neighbors who would pressure their council member to scotch the deal and keep out a horde of low-income residents. And it’s not even clear that the project will be built because it hasn’t qualified for the tax breaks necessary to make its numbers work.

The rest of the article is free at the link above.

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