NYC Developers Prepare to Fight Inclusionary Zoning

Bill de Blasio, NYC's likely next mayor, has proposed passing inclusionary zoning regulations to increase the city's supply of affordable housing. Other cities have struggled with such regulations, raising questions about its effectiveness.

"To say the real estate industry doesn't agree with [de Blasio's] plan for mandatory affordable-housing construction would be an understatement," writes Andrew J. Hawkins. "The industry is quietly gearing up for a fight, fearful that a de Blasio administration will reverse the decades-long trend of offering developers a choice between doing purely market-rate projects or getting bonuses, subsidies and tax breaks to include affordable units."

Even if de Blasio could overcome the political obstacles, inclusionary zoning is far from a proven tool for reducing inequality. According to Hawkins, the experiences of other cities that have passed similar regulations raise questions about the effectiveness of such programs.

Take Denver, for instance. "In August, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat, called his city's mandatory affordable-housing ordinance 'a failure ... plagued with loopholes and inconsistencies.' Only 15 affordable units were added to Denver's housing stock in four years, a problem Mr. Hancock hopes to rectify by offering developers more incentives and allowing owners more flexibility in selling or renting their property."

"Barry Bluestone, director of Northeastern University's Center for Urban and Regional Policy, said that while Boston's inclusionary zoning has produced plenty of affordable housing, it hasn't solved the city's inequality issue—a scenario that may play out in New York if Mr. de Blasio is elected," adds Hawkins.

Full Story: Mixed results for de Blasio's housing mandate, experts say

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