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$2.5 Million is Too Much for a Teardown

Palo Alto has become so expensive, plots of land with derelict houses sell for millions of dollars. Mathew Yglesias argues allowing small municipalities to make their own zoning laws is partly to blame.
May 6, 2017, 1pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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The view in Palo Alto.
Sundry Photography

NIMBYs in California's most expensive town are destructive to the state's economy, and Mathew Yglesias argues the state should take away their power to decide zoning rules by giving the state more power over zoning. "In the normal course of events, one might expect that land this expensive would become densely developed. But it turns out that the neighborhood in question isn’t full of large apartment towers," Yglesias writes in Vox. This is because the land is set aside for detached single family homes and nothing else can be built there.

In the interest of housing, more people and helping the state's economy, Yglesias argues that the state of California should intercede. "Stepping in to centralize more land use decisions in Sacramento would reveal that there is a strong broad statewide interest in more development," Yglesias argues. Streamlining the permitting process or allowing for more density in places like Palo Alto would bring down the value of some of the empty lots, but "housing affordability has become a problem that afflicts large swathes of the middle class," and Yglesias argues, the state needs to address that.

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Published on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 in Vox
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