Yesterday evening I attended a 5:30 PM meeting at the Planning Commission on inclusionary zoning. Someone forwarded to me the announcement of the meeting and I did not learn of it until Monday morning. Due to my wife's ill health, I have limited flexibility in my ability to be away from home. Louella's caregiver agreed to work late but I had to be home by 7PM, so I could not stay for the whole meeting but I was able to attend part of it.
The meeting was a meeting of "stakeholders." At the start of the meeting everyone was allowed to introduce themselves and when I introduced myself I said that by virtue of being a citizen and a taxpayer, I was a stakeholder. After the presentation by the consultant, when it was Q and A time, I tried to ask a question but the Planning commission person conducting the meeting said this was not a public hearing and only invited stakeholders would be allowed to speak. I had a question in mind that was not at all confrontational, but a legitimate question seeking clarrification of what was presented.
NOAH and VOICE were at the table and allowed to participate. Why are these liberal advocacy groups considered "stakeholders" but I am not? For that matter, why are developers considered stakeholders but not me? I'm pissed.
The presentation was very factual and quantified with numbers and illustrated by charts and graphs what we all already know and that is that housing is becoming more expensive in Nashville and that a lot of people who work in Nashville live outside the county and housing prices are rising faster than area median income.
My impression is that the consultant is unbiased and at least at this first meeting is providing data and is not advocating an inclusionary zoning policy. In fact, David Swartz of Economic & Planning Systems stated his role was not that of an advocate but to present data.
Inclusionary zoning is essentially housing price fixing. It very well may be ruled a "taking" by the Supreme Court when the Court considers the issue, as it appears it is likely to do. While dozens, it not hundreds of cities have adopted some form of inclusionary zoning, three states have outlawed it.
Under most inclusionary zoning laws, developers of over a certain number of housing units, often as few as ten units, must set aside a certain percentage as "affordable" for people making x percentage of the area median income. According to a bill pasted by the Metro Council a few months ago, the Planning Commission is charged with developing a set of rules for the Council to consider adopting than would implement a local inclusionary zoning ordidance.
There is "really bad" inclusionary zoning and then just "bad" inclusionary zoning. The really bad mandates; the simply bad bribes by offering incentives for developers to include x number of "affordable" housing units in their developments. While I dislike policies that bribe developers to do certain thinks, if we must have an inclusionary zoning policy I would prefer to have one that rewards developers rather than one that punishes.
What happens with this form of price control known as "inclusionary zoning?" The market rate units must have their price increased to subsidize the below market rate units. The result may be that fewer total units get built and total housing cost increases for everyone else except those fortunate enough to get one of the set-aside unites.. The unintended consequences of inclusionary zoing is that fewer units get built and housing prices increase more than they otherwise would have. Builders do not have to build in Nashville and if they can make more money building elsewhere they will.
With Megan Barry serving as our new mayor and a much more liberal Metro Council, I think it will be difficult to stop Nashville from passing some form of inclusionary zoning. I hope the Supreme Court outlaws this form of "taking." I also hope the State legislature passes a law to prohibit it. If neither of these things occur, I hope we adopt a bad form of inclusionary zoning rather than a really bad form of inclusionary zoning.
To view the power point presentation at last nights meeting follow this link.
Below are excepts from The Tennessean's report on last nights meeting.
Stakeholders weigh affordable housing optionsFor more information on the topic, follow this link.
by Holly Meyers, The Tennessean, Oct.13,2015 - Should new residential developments in Nashville be required to have affordable housing units? ....planning department brought together housing development stakeholders for the first time Monday night to hear a consultant's data-packed presentation on factors that contribute to the national and local housing climate. The 50-person stakeholder group, which includes developers, lenders, housing advocates and members of the Metro Council, will provide input as the planning department sorts through solutions. ... inclusionary zoning is a divisive issue, David Schwartz, the company's vice president, emphasized to stakeholders at Monday's meeting that his firm wants to find the common ground and build consensus.