The Whitehouse's Housing Development Toolkit - Sep 2016

The Executive Branch has weighed in on housing, at the local level, calling on states and cities to reduce impediments to constructing new housing, citing zoning and permitting as parts of the problem.

Over the past three decades, local barriers to housing development have intensified, particularly in the high-growth metropolitan areas increasingly fueling the national economy. The accumulation of such barriers – including zoning, other land use regulations, and lengthy development approval processes – has reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand. The growing severity of undersupplied housing markets is jeopardizing housing affordability for working families, increasing income inequality by reducing less-skilled workers’ access to high-wage labor markets, and stifling GDP growth by driving labor migration away from the most productive regions. By modernizing their approaches to housing development regulation, states and localities can restrain unchecked housing cost growth, protect homeowners, and strengthen their economies.

Locally-constructed barriers to new housing development include beneficial environmental protections, but also laws plainly designed to exclude multifamily or affordable housing. Local policies acting as barriers to housing supply include land use restrictions that make developable land much more costly than it is inherently, zoning restrictions, off-street parking requirements, arbitrary or antiquated preservation regulations, residential conversion restrictions, and unnecessarily slow permitting processes. The accumulation of these barriers has reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand.

They’ve made a public tool kit for local governing bodies to reference when making policy decisions. It outlines these specific action items to take when drafting these policies, which FAN has historically advocated for:

This toolkit highlights actions that states and local jurisdictions have taken to promote healthy, responsive, affordable, high-opportunity housing markets, including:
 Establishing by-right development
 Taxing vacant land or donate it to non-profit developers
 Streamlining or shortening permitting processes and timelines
 Eliminate off-street parking requirements
 Allowing accessory dwelling units
 Establishing density bonuses
 Enacting high-density and multifamily zoning
 Employing inclusionary zoning
 Establishing development tax or value capture incentives
 Using property tax abatements

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Strong Towns talks about this too here:

This reminds me of Hyde Park and how NIMBYs have gradually outlawed everything that made Hyde Park what it is today and how they are changing the character of the neighborhood to be all large single family homes with large lots that only the wealthy can afford.

“Over the years some residents have persuaded the city to tighten zoning rules to the point that their own neighborhoods could never be rebuilt the same way.”

“This is the kind of excessive local regulation the Obama White House had in mind recently when it released a remarkable policy paper calling on cities and counties to ease their zoning laws. Housing advocates in the Boston area have been seeking such changes for years, and a budding network of “yes in my back yard” activists is beginning to emerge at a national level. The White House paper only underscores how local zoning obstacles add up to a problem for the entire American economy.”