Skip to main content

The wrong approach to affordability

A Chicago Alderman just demonstrated why trying to solve affordability at a local level works poorly at best.  Alderman Maldonado down zoned a collection of properties to "combat gentrification".  On it's own, that would be the worst solution as it's decreasing available housing, which will only push up the prices of the remaining housing.  There's a small silver lining in that he claimed this was a negotiating tactic to push more affordable housing into development plans.

The problem here is, that while affordable housing is a great goal, this is a poor way of getting it.  It's not necessary to negotiate for it if you act in a comprehensive way, because you can simply legislate the requirements.  Legislating creates a predictable and equal environment for development.  Negotiating creates friction, uncertainty and is at risk of being arbitrary.  The developers who succeed in such an environment are often going to be that are best at bending the politicians in their favor, both in legal and sometimes illegal ways.

Mayor Lightfoot has the right response here.  Spot zoning and using Aldermanic privilege as a negotiating tool are poor substitutes for a comprehensive plan that builds new housing, especially affordable housing.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commit to Long Term Testing

Expanding testing is very important now.  It's also clearly an area we were unprepared.  We should commit to having testing capacity long term, to both provide more certainty to anyone expanding testing capacity today, and to be prepared in the future. I had some thoughts about how this testing would be best structured.  It's not possible to test for an contagious disease you're not aware of, but much of the infrastructure for doing so can already be in place, ready to be adapted.  That infrastructure would roughly boil down to a) sample collection b) sample handling c) sample preparation d) sample analysis e) materials: reagents, etc. Scaling these up from scratch is quite a bit more work than adapting to a new contagion.  A commitment to having that infrastructure would have helped a lot with the current crisis. Right now, the focus is rightfully on health care workers, suspected cases and essential workers.  In terms of preparation though, in the early stages

The promise (and pitfalls) of index based insurance

Insurance in developing nations is far less broadly available than developed ones.  In addition, the risks that citizens of developing nations face, are often much more numerous and severe.  Crop-insurance is a common element of agricultural policy in the United States, but less common in Ethiopia.  As Ethiopia has a much higher percentage of their population engaged in agriculture, shocks, such as drought, crop disease, or severe weather have big impacts. Insurance's basic principle is simple, spreading risk across a broader pool.  When harmed, you get assistance to lessen the impact, when you're not harmed, your payments cover the costs of others who are.  But deciding who is harmed is a very time consuming task.  Preventing fraud is important to staying competitive, when looking at private enterprise, and important to public trust when dealing with public programs.  But preventing fraud places burdens not only on the insurance provider, but the claimants.  Having to prove

Finding your way: Public Transit and Uber

Uber has been disruptive in many ways.  One way, which has been a great disappointment, is the effect on public transit systems.  It was once hoped that ride hailing would provide an assist to public transit, as a gateway to abandoning car ownership.  There have also been hopes that suburban commuters would use ride-hailing as their connection to public-transit which is not accessible by walking in these areas.   Multiple studies have confirmed these hopes have largely not materialized, and public-transit has been weakened . Cities have reacted, mostly by putting barriers to ride-hailing growth.  Sometimes they are collecting extra fees, sometimes placing new requirements.  But mostly these efforts don't do much to change the relationship between ride-hailing and public-transit. I work with a local group that spends time thinking about automated car policy, how to get the most good and the least bad.  We've discussed a proposal that fits ride-hailing, in the here and now,