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Inclusionary zoning means trade-offs, panel says

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy because there are many ends policymakers can pursue with inclusionary zoning, Brookings Institution Fellow Jenny Schuetz said.


What’s the best way for local governments to implement inclusionary zoning policies? Depends on what they want to accomplish.


Hundreds of cities and counties in recent decades have adopted some form of inclusionary zoning, a suite of policies that require or incentivize market-rate housing developers to set aside some units as affordable.


At a Federal Reserve-sponsored conference Monday in Minneapolis, policymakers, developers and advocates heard from experts who discussed the range of inclusionary zoning options local governments have tried, and which ones have produced the best results.


There’s no one-size-fits-all policy because there are many ends policymakers can pursue with inclusionary zoning, Brookings Institution Fellow Jenny Schuetz said. That’s also made it difficult to study inclusionary zoning in a comprehensive way, as different markets adopt different policies at different times for different reasons.


“Do you just want to build as many affordable units as possible, maximize the number of below market rate units? … Is an important goal the economic integration? What’s the income group that you’re particularly trying to target?” Schuetz asked. “These are important questions to ask yourself because sometimes there can be trade-offs between reaching these goals and the way you’ve designed the program.”


Different policies have had widely different impacts, said Heather Schwartz, a RAND Corp. researcher and co-author of a 2012 study evaluating 11 inclusionary zoning regimes. A Denver policy adopted in 2002 resulted in 77 new units built as of 2010, while a 2005 Santa Fe policy created more than 600 new homes by the end of the decade. The nation’s oldest inclusionary zoning policy, adopted in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 1973, has led to more than 13,000 new homes since it was enacted.


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"Inclusionary zoning means trade-offs, panel says"; by William Morris; Finance and Commerce; April 29, 2019

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