Height Restrictions Mean High Prices in DC

Responding to a report by the Washington Post that office rents have now topped those in Manhattan, Matt Yglesias says the district's austere zoning is to blame.
October 20, 2010, 1pm PDT | Lynn Vande Stouwe
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Yglesias argues that the perceived aesthetic benefits of building height restrictions are inconsequential compared broader economic development impacts. Forbidden from building up, developers instead build out, sending jobs and residents to the suburbs, he says. The result is fewer retail sales and associated service-sector jobs for low-skill DC residents as well as lost sales and income tax revenue for the city.

In general, cities should be mindful of unintended effects of land use policies, Yglesias writes:

'Rules which mandate that the space be used inefficiently are extremely costly. Sometimes it's a price worth paying-you wouldn't want a city with zero parks-but there are limits to how much it makes sense to sacrifice for aesthetics.'

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Published on Monday, October 18, 2010 in Think Progress
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