Through Edward ring
An article just published in City newspaper, “Is Texas Affordable Housing Under Threat,” describes how housing prices in Texas are becoming unaffordable. The article notes how the average price of homes in the Austin metropolitan area has doubled in just 10 years. In the Dallas suburbs ten years ago, more than 50% of homes were selling for less than $ 200,000, compared to around 4% today.
One of the reasons people move to Texas is that homes there are more affordable than other places. Writer Connor Harris describes California as an edifying tale. Since Texas relies on high property taxes instead of having a state income tax, if property values rise, voters in Texas are likely to follow the lead set by the 1978 tax revolt in California. A Proposition 13-like revolt, which prevented annual reassessments of home values, could lead Texas to pass and raise income taxes, which would penalize productive activity.
This theory, however, involves a number of dominoes, which may or may not make it predictive. For example, if house prices rise, the Texas legislature could simply lower the property tax rate, as higher dues and lower rates can offset each other, resulting in a neutral impact on income. But Harris is really derailed in his discussion of policies to dampen rising home prices.
Claiming that “the main culprit in the price hikes is legal restrictions on housing,” Harris blames single-family residential zoning for the housing shortage. His solution is for the state legislature to pass a law “capping minimum lot sizes in undeveloped areas” and requiring all cities to allow small “ancillary housing units” in single-family residential areas.
The myth of “environmental impact”
It is disturbing to see what Harris advocates published by the normally dreadful City newspaper, because it is further evidence of a libertarian-progressive consensus forming on housing issues that rests on flawed premises and hidden agendas.
The most erroneous premise is the idea that low-density suburbs are somehow the root cause of climate change. The libertarian response is “stop building suburbs that subsidize the car”, which goes well with the progressive response to “densify cities”. But the low density suburbs not necessarily bad for the planet.
Greenhouse gas theory – the notion that longer journeys lead to more car emissions harmful to the planet – should have been put to rest by the pandemic. Americans have realized, if they hadn’t already, that a huge percentage of the workforce can work from home.
But even before the pandemic hit, cars were getting greener and jobs had kept people up to the suburbs. In the future, driverless cars will form into high speed convoys in smart lanes, moving more people on the same stretches of road. Eventually, passenger drones will take additional pressure on the roads. Moving from remote suburbs to urban cores will become easier in the future, not more difficult.
The myth of “inclusive zoning”
The other flawed premise of Harris’ essay emerges later, where he writes: “When central areas of cities become unaffordable, jobs move to richer suburbs, generally less accessible to working class residents. . Much is buried in this sentence that will escape the uninitiated. In essence, this is an innocent-sounding echo of a progressive litany, which is to impose “inclusive” zoning in order to atone for the “exclusion” zoning of single-family residential suburbs.
There is nothing wrong with converting, organically and in accordance with local sentiment, residential areas of urban centers from single-family use to higher density. But when state-mandated, high-density affordable housing is taxed wherever it is, it results in the destruction of neighborhoods where people have worked their entire lives to earn the right to live a certain quality of life. .
To better understand the danger posed by this growing movement of stigmatization – and then destruction – of unspoiled suburbs, consider the layers of abuse that accompany these mandates. It’s bad enough that people who are struggling to make a mortgage payment to have a house in a spacious suburban neighborhood suddenly have to deal with the random demolition of houses on their streets, which are then replaced by apartments, or find the backyard behind their own backyard suddenly has a second house and a driveway that almost approaches the property line. And it’s not unfair to mention that, especially in Texas where property taxes are reassessed every year, people who pay mortgages on four-bedroom homes are going to have divergent lifestyles and expectations compared to people who rent one-bedroom apartments.
And to be clear: it’s not a question of race. It is an economic fact which must be respected. Placing low income housing in middle income neighborhoods is not fair to people, of all races, who have worked hard to move to and out of lower income neighborhoods.
The hidden agenda
But this is only the first layer. “Inclusive zoning” is rarely market-based. In California, where it has become impossible to build affordable housing of any kind without subsidies, developers are taking advantage of tax credits and direct subsidies to cushion their already inflated costs. The result is the average ‘affordable housing’ complex in California. costs over $ 500,000 per unit. At this price, supply will never equal demand, rents are always subsidized and admission is by lottery.
The solution to housing affordability is indeed to increase the supply of housing, but state-imposed densification is not the solution. If Texans aren’t careful, the next restriction, a policy already well established in California, will be to cordon off all urban areas, which will make any new construction of any kind extremely difficult outside of the “urban service boundary.”
The moral principle: save the planet. The Hidden Agenda: Artificially raising home values, which creates collateral that homeowners can borrow against so they consume more, higher property tax revenues to government, and capital appreciation for investment portfolios real estate.
The real solution
Instead of using state mandates to cram Texas’s burgeoning population into the footprint of existing cities, allow cities and city councils to decide locally how and where they want to increase density. At the same time, and this is absolutely essential, continue to ease the pressure on the urban housing stock by building whole new suburbs and cities on open land. Focus on building enabling infrastructure – energy, water, roads – and minimize regulatory hurdles to new suburbs: excessive building code mandates, punitive fees, and clearance of delays.
Protecting America’s middle class requires not only nurturing a strong economy to create well-paying jobs: it also requires deregulation designed to lower the cost of living. Nothing affects the ability of the average American family to pay their bills as much as the price of housing.
The vision of progressives, supported by libertarians, is to open the borders and admit at least 20 million more people in the United States in the next 20 years. Depending on border law enforcement, that number could increase much more.
Obviously, there is a vigorous debate on the economic and demographic impact of this policy, but whatever position one can take on the immigration issue, one thing is clear: if we are to expand our population, we must build new towns, cities and suburbs. And when the price is right, “market demand” is for single-family single-family homes. We have already done this. We can start over. We have plenty of room.
Ultimately, housing policies come down to one fundamental question: are we going to nurture a competitive economy of abundance, or an economy of scarcity and rationing imposed by monopoly business interests that hide behind green rhetoric and anti-racist? And even if the choice is to nurture abundance, there is no clear ideological policy from which to design policies.
Libertarians are right to want deregulation. They are wrong to oppose local zoning laws. Progressives are right to care about the planet and the underprivileged, they are simply wrong in almost every possible way they have invented to meet these challenges.
This article originally appeared on the website American size.