Editorial: To Fix Housing, Fix Land Use
An editorial for Crain's New York Business places the blame for New York City's housing affordability crisis on the political process that exacts costs, and reduces units, throughout the approval and development process.
The problem is that the scales are tipped the wrong way. During the public-review process for zoning changes, almost no one but the developer advocates for more housing, because the people who would benefit directly—those who will live there and the workers who will build it—don't know it yet. New units reduce the cost of housing citywide, but one project's impact is too small to motivate the countless indirect beneficiaries to speak at a hearing or rally. In contrast, local opponents are motivated. The negative effects of a project are concentrated on them, and they can pressure their local politicians.
The editorial identifies a few places where the system has become friendlier to development, but makes a clear appeal for a less restrictive land use regime to the benefit of housing costs in the city.