Council to consider mandatory inclusionary zoning.
Springer’s group joined a coalition arguing for beefing
up incentives rather than using mandates. “The REALTORS® want to be part of a solution. We are in no way
just saying ‘no’, but we want to be careful in how we
design a policy.”
Whether mandatory or incentive-based, inclusionary
policies require additional economic and political calculus: How much extra density is enough (or too much),
and how much will current residents tolerate? If you
allow off-site affordable units, how do you avoid concentrating them in high-poverty neighborhoods?
This last point is critical, experts and city officials said,
because the hope is to use the boom to lift all boats, in
neighborhoods across the city. “There are few tools that
are more effective for economic integration,” Hickey
said. “It is indispensible for improving the locations
available for lower-income households.” At the same
time, he added, flexibility is the hallmark of every successful program.
To that end, San Diego’s program allows for off-site
development of affordable units, with a preference that
they be built in the same “community planning area”.
But the city will allow other areas if they do not already
have a concentration of low-income households, and if
the units will help meet the goal of having more homes
in close proximity to transit stations. Boulder, Colo.,
will allow developers to meet targets off-site by rehabilitating existing units and preserving them as affordable,
provided they help meet the goal of economic integration of neighborhoods and offer transportation access
without a car. Boston allows developers to pay into
an affordable housing fund in lieu of developing on-site, but requires that at least half those funds must be
invested in neighborhoods with above-average incomes.
“It’s encouraging to see cities trying new ideas,” Hickey
said. For the boldest experimentation, he added, two
cities stand out: New York and Seattle.
New York’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing
In the decade before Mayor Bill de Blasio took office
in 2014, New York City had seen rents climb 15 percent while the median income of renters rose just two
Flexibility is the hallmark
of every successful program.
Photo by Jeff Greenberg and Visit Pittsburgh
Courtesy of Visit Pittsburgh
Photo by Doug Kerr