News and Commentary
In Denver, a neighborhood group is attempting to preserve an eccentrically designed local restaurant. In doing so, they would prevent the owner from selling the establishment and retiring. Using public policy to sideline someone’s retirement is a particularly vivid example of that change in our thinking about private property in the context of land-use regulation.
In Philidelphia, a union is attempting to amend the zoning code to prevent any building from replacing their closing hospital.
Previously, we publicized a paper from the Philadelphia Fed using Census data to measure the effects of gentrification. They argue that gentrification contributes trivially to the displacement of low-income residents, while there are meaningful improvements in educational attainment. Reexamining that same paper, a piece in Greater Greater Washington argues that while aggregates are important and the paper shows that gentrification is not the nightmare many make it out to be, there are costs to some residents that cannot be ignored. Hidden within those big statistical averages, they find that some neighborhoods (such as many in DC) still experience meaningful displacement effects, making mitigation efforts that much more important.
The New York Times reports on NIMBYism on the Upper East Side. While worries about gentrification occupy a lot the commentariat’s attention, it is important to remember that rich residents of “historic” neighborhoods fearing (read: resenting) change is the main impediment to zoning reform. A lot of upzoning could (and should) done while leaving poorer neighborhoods untouched.
While many doubt any policy that benefits developers can also alleviate the affordable housing crisis, an article in CityLab does a nice job outlining the housing affordability policies that could work in tandem with zoning liberalization.
The tech sector is concentrating into a few regional ecosystems. According to Brookings, while the share of digital employment is rising in San Fransico, Los Angelos, and Orlando, it is shrinking in D.C., Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. While some thought the new information technology could make location less important, firms in high-tech industries still want to cluster next to each other. If more workers (even those outside the specific industry) are to benefit from these high-productivity locales, housing supply must be expanded.
Though rootless cosmopolitans are under attack these days, engagement with the global economy is still the best strategy for generating growth in America’s mid-sized cities.