Targeted Housing desperately needed! So, here’s an idea! We will tie the supply of social, affordable, and family housing to private development by applying quotas. And then, we will spend years negotiating development agreements in a process that gives uninformed NIMBYs too much influence. Despite best intentions, the plan and process results in long delays for desperately needed Targeted Housing.
The quota system is a self defeating initiative. It is just another example of governments wanting to fix housing problems by regulation. Developers already face a growing number of regulatory bodies and spider webs of complication before being able to bring a project on stream. Five year (or longer) delays in reaching development agreements are common. Project delays equal supply delays. And, supply shortage is the root cause of the housing crisis.
Targeted Housing means social, affordable, and family housing
The Missing Middle, a term coined by Opticos Design that refers to the whole spectrum of homes in between single-family houses and large apartment buildings. This includes duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, small-scale apartment buildings with a handful of units, cottage courts, etcetera.
This has become a growing trend in the United States. It requires political courage. The Biden infrastructure plan if approved will provide grants to those jurisdictions that up-zone. This is not an initiative effective on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis. It has to be province or state wide. Otherwise, land prices increase disproportionally in the up-zoned areas. This is a critical initiative for development of the Missing Middle.
Do not apply Targeted Housing quota systems to new development. Private developers will spend significant time and money in an attempt to incorporate various targets. Then, regulators provide their comments, frequently based on subjective reviews. Developers revise plans and a new round of negotiations begins.
Make it simple. Apply a per unit development fee to support Targeted Housing. Those development fees must be used exclusively for land acquisition and funding of Targeting Housing initiatives. The higher the cost of the developed unit, the higher the development charge. This approach can be rule-based and provide certainty.
“As of Right” development rights have to be reliable. I find it absolutely appalling that municipal politicians feel it is:
Conversely, if a developer tries to negotiate change to pre-existing limitations, it should be entirely at the developers risk.
Simplify height, density, and other land-use requirements. Despite up-zoning, not every new building has to be high-rise. By way of example, it is fine to restrict development in a certain area to say forty feet. High-density, low rise neighbourhoods are among the most dynamic in urban communities. Think of Montréal’s Le Plateau, Paris, walk-up flats in New York City, and numerous areas in London. Theses neighbourhoods support walkable retail and restaurant ecosystems.
Limit public consultations to the development of urban plans. Once completed, giving a self-interested (or should I say selfish) public the opportunity to contest every project is an affront to urban planning professionals representing developers and municipalities. Nobody questions the beauty of Paris as conceived by Georges-Eugène Hausmann. He had Napoleon III to manage the NIMBYs.
Regulatory simplicity, certainty, and commitment to expediency are key to an increase in the housing supply. Uncertainty and delay are the enemies. Development delayed is affordable housing delayed. There is no time to waste. Targeted Housing desperately needed!
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Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]
We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie and Norry Wilson. So, we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]
Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]
Many Viennese went from hot bedding to superblocks overnight. Could they even imagine an apartment complex 1000 metres long built along two streets with even more massive landscaped courtyards? Could they conceive of 1400 apartment units built to house 5000 people on 56,000 square metres or 38 acres of land. Or a vertical build-out that […]
Vienna had been a poor city even before the First World War. “Normal” housing arrangements meant six to eight people sharing one room and a kitchen. Then, in early 1919, just after the Armistice, the cost of living tripled in two months. Bed lodgers could no longer afford their 8-hours a day in a shared […]