News and Commentary
California SB 330, introduced by Nancy Skinner, passed the senate and heads to the assembly. The bill makes the bold SB 50 look timid–it would freeze most zoning restrictions to 2018 levels, streamline the approval and community input process for new developments, and would require local agencies to delay enforcement of code violations for up to seven years.
In CityObservatory, Joe Cortright compares Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty to the choice many residents of declining cities face now–changing it to “exit, hope, and loyalty.” They can leave, either because of declining quality of life, stay and hope things get better while using their “voice” to influence policy, but the latter is only possible if there is some hope that things can turn around.
The Minneapolis Fed held a conference on inclusionary zoning, a regulation where developers must set aside a certain number of apartment units for those of low-income. This is usually done in conjunction with a “density bonus,” where more apartments than would otherwise be allowed are constructed in exchange for below-market rate apartments. The entire conference’s video can be seen here.
A few months ago, Yonah Freemark published a study of two limited upzoning changes in Chicago, and found significant increases in land and property transaction values (read our analysis here). While this study was used to argue against upzoning, specifically SB 50, Freemark cleared the air by noting that (1) there was no increase in construction that accompanied the Chicago upzoning because (2) there are countless other variables associated with the ability to build new housing and (3) most of the concerns he raises about upzoning alone are addressed by SB 50 through tenant protections and inclusionary zoning requirements. Upzoning isn’t everything, to be sure, but Freemark’s post is important to stop NIMBYs from oversimplifying and distorting his findings.
One of the Furies of gentrification is displacement. Neighborhoods become nicer–and thus more expensive–forcing low-income residents to move out, so the story goes. A new study from NBER complicates this narrative. Using Medicaid data from New York City, the study found that while families in market-rate housing who move due to higher rents tend to move farther away than those in subsidized housing, there were no significant changes in overall mobility (i.e. displacement). Children who start out in gentrifying neighborhoods do see a decrease in neighborhood poverty, but those who stay in them see a slight reduction in math scores, indicating that the “gentrifiers,” generally childless, have little incentive to improve schools. The study is a mixed bag, but it provides evidence that concerns about gentrification are generally exaggerated.