Huge news for housing and urbanism: on Monday President Obama came out as a YIMBY with the release of a new “Housing Development Toolkit” for breaking down local barriers to home building:
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.
The elevation of these issues to the federal level is a reflection of the growing mountain of evidence that restrictive regulations—a.k.a. exclusionary zoning— undermines equity and social justice by driving up housing prices. The Toolkit’s recommendations include many for which Sightline has been advocating for years (e.g., parking!):
- 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
Google will serve you up plenty of happy YIMBY press on this, but here are two pieces that caught my eye because they offer thoughtful criticism to balance the praise—this:
Housing, like policing, education and so many other systems in this country, operates within a system that privileges racism and classism. And until “toolkits” like the one released Monday interrogate how to dismantle those systems, we’re only putting a salve on the problems.
How about we eliminate the distorting effects of federal housing subsidies? How about we stop subsidizing the horizontal expansion of cities through our transportation policies?
Some really good news, for a change.
And, an important dose of reality (real heroes included).
“It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s a SUPERBLOCK!” Check out this great article/video duo from Vox that explains how Barcelona has cut down on noise pollution, traffic, and air pollution, which has helped give the city back to the people.
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When you’re biking, do you use Strava? Map My Ride or any other GPS mapping app? If so, do you make your route look like a dinosaur or Gandalf the Grey? (If you want to start planning your bike doodle now and you happen to be in Cascadia’s biggest city, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) just came out with a new Seattle Bike Map.)
Also, the first pride flag was launched into space recently!
The primary purpose of this declaration is to support the ongoing fight for the fundamental human rights of our LGBTQ family, moving us closer to a universal understanding that all people deserve to live freely and love freely without fear and discrimination. Our hope was to create the largest safe SPACE possible for our LGBTQ community. It also offered us a chance to reinforce, in a peaceful, beautiful way, our ongoing message to our LGBTQ family: You are loved, valued and beautiful. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not alone, and we will stand with you.
Now, who is ready to go to Mars with Elon Musk?