The pandemic accelerated existing trends and created unsustainable housing demand in a wider range of towns and cities, exacerbated by outdated zoning restrictions.
The pandemic was predicted to reduce housing costs as people freed by remote work scattered to more affordable markets and reduced pressure on housing stock in hyper-expensive ‘superstar’ cities. But as M. Nolan Gray writes in The Atlantic, “In reality, two years later, housing costs in those superstar metros are at record highs, while the wave of pandemic-era migrations has helped spread the affordability crisis nationwide.”
According to Gray, “You don’t need to study economics to know that surging demand amid stagnant supply causes prices to rise. According to the Case-Shiller Index, nationwide home prices jumped by nearly 20 percent last year alone,” making even historically affordable towns out of reach for local residents.
For Gray, whose recent book, Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It, highlights the ‘arbitrary constraints’ that keep American housing expensive such as parking requirements and multifamily housing bans, “If we want to contain the spread of high housing costs, these constraints have to go.” These restrictions don’t just affect major cities with already tight housing markets: “Duplexes and fourplexes are banned in 84 percent of residential neighborhoods in Charlotte. In Salt Lake City, minimum-parking mandates mean that apartments can’t be built without either towering garages or huge lots. In Austin, naysayers have successfully delayed a liberalizing zoning overhaul for a decade.”
With land becoming scarce in many cities, wildfires and flooding threatening the wildland-urban interface, and housing costs rising rapidly in more places, affordability is no longer an exclusively coastal concern.
Inclusive Prosperity: No Displacement Necessary
Recent analysis identifies nearly 200 U.S. neighborhoods that have achieved the highly-sought-after goal of increasing the prosperity of residents without displacing the existing community.
Making Healthy Places
The editors of the book "Making Healthy Places," recently published in a second edition by Island Press, discuss the intersections of public health and planning, including key concepts such as green gentrification, health impact assessments, and AI.
Chicago ADUs Concentrated in More Affluent Neighborhoods
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Tempe’s Car-Free Developers Headed to Atlanta
Culdesac, developer of a massive no-parking multi-family development in Arizona, is headed to Georgia.
Is it a Rowhouse, or a Rowhome?
Philadelphia has long been acknowledged as the capital of rowhouses in the United States. It’s becoming more common for those rowhouses to be referred to as rowhomes.
Maps for Proposed San Francisco Bay Tunnel Revealed
Planners presented two options for new tunnels that would help connect more parts of the Northern California megaregion to San Francisco and Oakland.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Smart City Expo World Congress
Daniel R. Mandelker
City of Charleston
City of Crystal River
Sun City Center Community Association, Inc
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.