Tag Archives: local government

Lessons Learned: Local Markets Matter

New development outside Colorado Springs, CO

This is kind of a “Duh” sort of lesson, but every community we visited was its own unique case of why local housing markets matter.  Even between communities that had tight housing markets, the conditions that create an affordability squeeze aren’t the same. Continue reading

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Less Regulation, More Density… More Affordability?

A recent interview by WHYY’s Marty Moss-Coane engaged Slate‘s Matthew Yglesias about his latest book “The Rent is Too Damn High: What to Do About It and Why It Matters More Than You Think.”  One of Yglesias’ main claims is regulation is holding back adequate housing supply, and thus housing affordability, especially coastal cities.  Moss-Coane does an excellent job as the interviewer and raises a ton of essential questions about housing development.   Continue reading

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Planning for Affordability: Special Districts

photo credit: Billy Hathorn

A recent article by Charlottesville Tomorrow featured a major housing issue for college towns: where to put students.  Students are willing to live about anywhere, so long as it’s within walking distance to campus (or well-serviced by transit).  This means they are also willing to pay a wide variety of rents for housing.

This can be a challenge for neighborhoods.  As owners recognize the guaranteed student housing market, many change or convert their properties to meet this demand.  This can be good for students and landlords alike.  But it also puts pressure on neighborhoods who want to remain homeowners.   Continue reading

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Planning for Affordability: Inclusionary Zoning

photo credit: Hisham N. Ashkouri for TAC

Zoning is the strongest tool available to planners.  Drawing its legal foundations from the police power of government, zoning lets localities set spatial rules about land use.  This has many advantages, including the separation of incompatible uses (i.e. elementary schools and chemical plants – an extreme example).

So, you enact a nice local zoning code.  Houses here, industry here, mixed uses there.  The Market hums along, steering everything to their highest and best uses (as far as your zoning allows).  The problem?  In market terms of “highest and best use,” affordable housing development rarely makes the cut. Continue reading

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“Housing 4 Hipsters” in Arlington

photo credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans

Button up your flannel and grab your messenger bag! Arlington County is hosting an affordable housing event – “Housing 4 Hipsters ” – on March 14.  Let’s get a few things out of the way: I don’t think this event is actually targeted at hipsters (“door prizes, such as Redskins tickets and interior design services, will be given away” – come on), nor do I think that you can do a whole lot to attract hipsters to your city.  This has been extensively talked about in economic development… is it possible to attract “creative” classes of people to help pioneer neighborhood revitalization?  Most experts would say no, or at least, not with any degree of precision. Continue reading

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