Listening to the radio the other day I could not believe my ears. The Wall Street Journal was reporting that the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed to eliminate local housing density zoning rules. The only part that was not that surprising was that Rush Limbaugh, and WSJ writer Robert P. Astorino were staunchly against this measure.
What is going on over at HUD? The folks who work over there never seemed to be liberty minded at all. Somehow, some way, came to the realization that zoning regulations impact the housing market adversely. Well, it is not as simple as that. It appears that the “conclusion” that they came to is that some zoning laws are racist:
In July, HUD published its long-awaited proposal on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” in the Federal Register. It is a sweeping set of land-use regulations that has attracted little national attention. The agency wants the power to dismantle local zoning so communities have what it considers the right mix of economic, racial and ethnic diversity. A finding of discriminatory behavior, or allegations of discrimination, would no longer be necessary. HUD will supply “nationally uniform data” of what it thinks 1,200 communities should look like.
Well, racist they might be and just from memory I can think of numerous examples where there is no doubt that this is true. No doubt at all. But just because every single zoning law is not racist based or motivated is no reason to defend any of them. Every one of them is bad in some way, and I knew the HUD action was too good to be true. But eliminating home occupancy/density regulations is the part that Limbaugh and Astorino were complaining about, maybe with a side complaint that the feds might impose their own version, a version that has a whole different set of people who do not own a parcel of property telling the parcel owner what to do with it.
Before anybody thinks that I’ve forgotten that there is no Constitutional provision for HUD, I have not. Also, even if there was I don’t see them having the authority to push the locals around.
Now, of some miracle occurred and everyplace in the US adopted a Houston, TX style lack of zoning we might see a marked change in the housing situation, especially in places like San Francisco and New York. That is, if your view of the housing situation is having enough housing at all given levels of quality for everybody seeking it.
If your view is keeping housing expensive, so the fat cats who own it now can enjoy an artificially high price for their property, just keep on keeping on the way things are now.