Builder Says Inclusionary Zoning Doesn't Work

<p>In this op-ed, a builders association representative argues that proposals for inclusionary zoning laws in Minnesota that require a certain percentage of affordable housing do not achieve the goals they aim for.</p>
August 4, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Current expressions of "inclusionary mandated zoning" unfairly and inequitably transfer a societal goal to a subset of the population. It's far from clear that inclusionary zoning (IZ) is a good way to close the gap between the housing that working families can afford and the housing that's available to them."

"In essence, IZ refers to municipal zoning ordinances requiring that a certain portion of a new residential development be set at a price achievable by low-income families. Typically, the price must be affordable to a family with 80 percent or less of the area's median family income. This price is often substantially below builders' costs. While inclusionary zoning appears superficially appealing, the losses sustained by builders on "affordable" units must be made up by higher prices on the newly built market-rate units. The higher price is effectively a "tax" on new market-rate housing."

"Mandatory IZ ordinances do not work in the market and are not authorized by Minnesota law. If a community seeks to provide housing to those with lower income levels, the best means is through existing housing stock. It is not sound policy to balance the needs of a community on new developments when the greatest resource is in preserving existing housing."

"In practice, IZ hasn't worked as intended, either. In Burlington, Vt., where inclusionary zoning has been in effect for 15 years, a total of 180 units - or 12 units a year - have been built. And in Montgomery County, Md., which has a population of almost a million, about 300 units per year are being built. Clearly, IZ is not likely to result in much new affordable housing."

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Published on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 in The Pioneer Press
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