Monday, August 26, 2013

Another Broadside Against Zoning

Reihan Salam, one of the right's most creative thinkers, takes a look at housing prices in New York City.  The article name-drops legal academics Bob Ellickson, David Schleicher, and Rick Hills:

In an ideal world, zoning laws would be straightforward enough that developers could navigate them fairly easily without too much case-by-case wrangling with local bureaucrats. New York City’s zoning laws, alas, are far from straightforward. The Bloomberg era has seen an unprecedented number of rezonings and upzonings (increases in allowable density) to allow new development to go forward. Yet it has also seen a great deal of downzoning (decreases in allowable density) and contextual rezoning that has reduced the ability of people to build new housing without seeking special permission in neighborhoods across the city. These downzonings are pushed by neighborhood groups that oppose new development, but they rarely meet with resistance from people who will have to pay the higher housing costs that are the result of downzonings.

Large-scale developers can get around these restrictions when they want to build by making direct appeals to City Hall and going through the complicated and expensive zoning amendment process. But small-scale developers, or individual homeowners who want to build a new housing unit on top of their brownstone, don’t have the time or the money to do the same.

Steve Clowney

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