News and Commentary:
A recent news report in Reason finds local governments in California are stalling construction of backyard cottages, an ideal way to increase density during a pandemic. Deregulating housing laws is not just a good idea in normal conditions, but essential during a pandemic and recession as money dries up for development with longer and longer delays due to courts.
An essay at The Atlantic stresses that density is not the problem to focus on in the pandemic and points to warped public policy in America causing issues in cities.
While they’re certainly not ideal to live through, an article at The Conversation notes that pandemics can often reshape city policies for the better.
Joe Cortright has two articles at City Observatory correctly noting the problem with strongly linking covid-19 outbreaks to density. He notes that New York City’s outbreak does not nealty line up with density as several suburban regions had high rates of new case growth. He drives home the importance of governance by comparing the outbreak in the Navajo Nation to (non)-situation in Vancouver.
An old post at Greater Greater Washington helpfully remainds all of us that housing cost burdens can be measured in different ways and the simple 30% benchmark ignores that other expenses crowded out by rent can vary quite a lot depending on household income.
The Cato Institute has a great new video on how the California Environmental Equality Act enables massive slowdowns in development that have given the state such a severe housing crisis. And as Reason published in a report last month, this regressive policy has been exacerbated by deadline extensions for civil action.
Two new NBER papers on housing policy. One looks at listings on a nationwide housing website and exploits randomized school quality information to find that families searching for housing to find that imperfect information and potentially biased beliefs leads to underestimating school performance on neighborhood characteristics. Another looks at policy with regard to urban density and discusses why the trade-offs are being imperfectly addressed by market forces and local policy.
A new report by the Urban Institute looks at various metrics of attachment between people and their communities in cities. It suggests that better policy for quality of life can make a real difference in driving individual decisions to live in a metro area.