For those that aren’t going to read the whole White House toolkit, more excerpts:
Over the past three decades, local barriers to housing development have intensified, particularly in the high-growth metropolitan areas increasingly fueling the national economy. Locally- constructed barriers to new housing development include beneficial environmental protections or well-intentioned permitting processes or historic preservation rules, but also laws plainly designed to exclude multifamily or affordable housing. Local policies acting as barriers to housing supply include land use restrictions that make developable land much more costly than it is inherently, zoning restrictions, off-street parking requirements, arbitrary or antiquated preservation regulations, residential conversion restrictions, and unnecessarily slow permitting processes.
Let’s see if Alameda fits the mold.
Environmental protections? Check!
Permitting processes? Check!
Historic Preservation? Check!
Laws designed to exclude multifamily or affordable housing? Check!
Land use restrictions to make and more costly? Check!
Zoning restrictions? Check!
Off-Street parking requirements? Check!
Unnecessarily slow permitting processes? Check, and we can largely thank the City Council with its Calls for Review power for that.
[T]he intensity and impact of such barriers are most evident in the vibrant job-generating regions where fervent demand far outstrips supply.
The vast majority of the nation’s largest cities are feeling the crush of sharply increased housing costs outpacing wages, with 9 of the largest 11 cities seeing rising rents and tightening vacancy rates[.]
On the effects of these barriers:
The accumulation of state and local barriers to housing development – including zoning, other land use regulations, and unnecessarily lengthy development approval processes – has reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand. The increasing severity of undersupplied housing markets is jeopardizing housing affordability for working families, exacerbating income inequality by reducing workers’ access to higher-wage labor markets, and stifling GDP growth by driving labor migration away from the most productive regions.
Emerging research has shown that in areas with high-cost housing such as California, zoning and other land-use controls contribute significantly to recent sharp cost increases, reflecting the increasing difficulty of obtaining regulatory approval for building new homes.
When barriers to housing development drive up rental and production costs, they constitute a countervailing force on housing assistance programs, reducing the impact of already-insufficient government resources for affordable housing. This strain on public resources occurs at all levels – federal, state and local. While President Obama’s budget calls for increasing investments to provide affordable housing and end family homelessness, HUD’s existing project- based and housing choice vouchers could serve more families if the per-unit cost wasn’t pushed higher and higher by rents rising in the face of barriers to new development. In order to build affordable housing, developers are often forced to supplement funding sources like tax credits with additional equities and loans, drawing down on state-allocated housing finance agency resources and city-held CDBG dollars. As each of these sources is piled onto a critical affordable housing resource, it is not available for preservation or additional new affordable housing elsewhere in the region.
Seriously though, before any of our City Council candidates talk about housing affordability issues this paper should be required reading. Maybe then some of the more tired and oft trotted out excuses as to why we shouldn’t build more housing to boost our economy will actually be meaningfully challenged.