Housing Policy

Andrew Yang Hates Zoning Laws

The long shot presidential candidate wants booming cities to get rid of their restrictions on new development.


Over the weekend, entrepreneur and presidential long shot Andrew Yang rolled out a policy brief on zoning that calls for loosening restrictions on the construction of more homes in the country's most productive cities.

"Housing is eating up more and more Americans' budgets and making it impossible to get ahead," said Yang. "If we relaxed zoning laws in certain areas it would enhance productivity and allow us to create many more affordable housing options.

Yang goes further by pointing the finger at existing homeowners for supporting the kinds of development restrictions that make housing so unaffordable for would-be homeowners.

"Those who already own homes have made it significantly harder for those who don't to recognize that dream. Through NIMBY (not in my backyard) and zoning laws, the ability of new housing to be built in certain areas has been impeded to the point where the vast majority of Americans can't afford to live in the largest cities," reads his campaign website.

That is all pretty encouraging stuff to hear from a presidential candidate. It's part of a growing consensus among politicians at the federal level that state and local restrictions on development are driving up the costs of housing for everyone.

Indeed, Yang's criticism of zoning is pretty close to what other Democratic primary candidates have said on the subject.

Sens. Cory Booker (D–N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), and Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.), and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro have all targeted restrictive local land use regulations as a cause of high housing costs.

Yang's plan differs from his primary opponents by offering almost no details on how he'd actually get rid of these rules. His website includes only a brief mention that he would "work with localities to relax zoning ordinances" and encourage new types of housing like micro-apartments and communal living arrangements.

This is both a virtue and a flaw. Other Democratic candidates all have pretty detailed housing policy fixes—they're just not very good.

Booker would tie the spending of federal housing and transportation dollars to cities and states reforming their zoning codes. Castro and Klobuchar have said they'd do something similar.

Warren, by contrast, has offered a solution that's all carrot, no stick. The Massachusetts senator has proposed creating a new grant program that will reward localities that get rid of restrictions on new housing development. Cities could then spend these grants on whatever they wanted.

She, like Castro and Booker, would pair that with massive amounts of new federal spending on affordable housing construction. Warren's plan calls for spending an additional $50 billion on affordable housing construction a year.

The trouble with tying federal housing grants to local zoning reform is that the most tightly-regulated communities generally get little of this money to begin with. Threatening to withhold this funding is therefore not much of an incentive.

Booker's plan, by targeting transportation funding as well, would probably be more successful. However, there's always the risk that additional federal strings will be used to encourage less-than-optimal policies.

Legislation introduced by Booker earlier this year would tie awarding Community Development Block Grants to cities adopting a whole menu of policies. Some of these, like getting rid of parking minimums or eliminating height requirements, are sensible. Others, like taxing vacant land or banning landlords from asking about a tenant's criminal history, are not.

Down the road, one can imagine a more activist administration tying these incentives to local communities adopting rent control or forcing developers to add solar panels to new buildings.

For folks who like free markets and federalism, the sad fact is there are few tools the federal government has to get rid of cost-increasing local and state regulations on housing. All the proposed fixes from Democratic candidates require the federal government to either spend more money or attach more regulations to the money it already spends.

Yang, by drawing attention to the cost-increasing effects of zoning, shows he understands the problem. By not proposing any interventionist fixes, he's guaranteeing he won't make the problem worse.

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  1. Local zoning laws are actually a very good example of stupid laws enacted by cities and states, in which the Federal government, for the most part, has no jurisdiction to intervene.
    I actually don’t want D.C. micromanaging things like zoning laws. I would rather spend the effort fighting my neighbors over those things rather than letting the Feds fuck this up. We can argue with our neighbors. We can’t really argue with D.C.

    1. Yup, better to fight 3,000 tyrants 1 mile away than 1 tyrant 3,000 miles away.

  2. There’s another big problem with new grant programs that provide federal dollars to localities that loosen restrictions, aside from the fact that the Feds should stay out of local issues: localities that currently have few or no restrictions get squat. Why reward those others?

    1. Its the same thing over and over with this guy.

      People like to say he has a ‘good ability to identify issues’. Which means fuck all when his proposed solutions – from the ostensible ‘technocrat’ candidate – are fucking insane and obviously will incentivize the exact behavior (or worse) than what he’s ‘trying to solve’.

      Its hard to believe that the one guy with actual business experience is among the worst of the Democratic candidates.

    2. The squeaky wheel gets the grease

  3. The long shot presidential candidate wants booming cities to get rid of their restrictions on new development.

    Should we care though? Here’s the thing – zoning is local. Sure, its noice that Yang coincides with libertarians that zoning is shite. But he’s not running for Mayor, he’s running for President.

    So, either he’s saying that zoning should be a national issue – we would be vehemently opposed to making a National Zoning Board (or even a National Zoning Decision Review Board) – or he’s getting so far down into the weeds that he would no longer be an effective executive.

    And if its just him spouting off – who cares? Really? If its not something the man can affect, then I do not care what his position on it is. Especially when so many (well, all) of his other positions are anti-freedom and pro-give-more-power-to-government.

    It would be cold comfort to know that the President that forced us into poverty to mandate a $15 min wage, UBI, etc also thinks that the now even more powerful zoning commissions that his power grabs have enabled shouldn’t be using their authority in the way that they will.

    1. You’d think with zoning being as bad as it is in many cities, one or two would have caught on and loosened their regulations. The fact that they haven’t makes me somewhat inclined to believe national action could possibly be warranted (not saying it is, just that it’s curious that the “market hasn’t provided” or whatnot.

      As a side note, Yang’s against the $15 minimum wage (making him the only sane Dem on that issue).

      1. “just that it’s curious that the “market hasn’t provided”

        No. It’s government regulation that hasn’t provided, not the market.

    2. I think we should ban any news articles from calling any presidential candidate a “longshot” before any votes have been cast.

  4. Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself with prison bedsheet: source

    Jeffrey Epstein was found hanging in his Lower Manhattan jail cell with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck and secured to the top of a bunk bed, The Post has learned.

    The convicted pedophile, who was 6 feet tall, apparently killed himself by kneeling toward the floor and strangling himself with the makeshift noose, a law enforcement source said Monday.

    1. Epstein was Donnie Trump’s running buddy for decades, Don’t doubt that evidence exists that they double-teamed some teen sex slave together. In fact a 13 year old (at the time) has sued Donnie-boy several years ago.

      1. Kiddie Raper. This bullshit has long been discredited. Just like every other thing you say. The real connection is to serial rapist Bill Clinton.

        Like Clinton, you two both should be in prison, maybe executed. Or even better, maybe some angry father will finally stop your pedophilia and torture you to death.

      2. “Epstein was Donnie Trump’s running buddy for decades, Don’t doubt that evidence exists that they double-teamed some teen sex slave together.”

        If turd had to post other than lies, turd would never post here.
        Fuck off, you pathetic piece of shit.

  5. When even your pals turn on you:

    ‘How are we all tolerating this?’: Scaramucci says GOP should consider replacing Trump on 2020 ticket


    1. This bombshell revelation marks a tipping point. The walls are closing in. It’s the beginning of the end.


      1. #DotardBodyCount

        1. Kiddie Raper, your only ally here is a parody account. You are a worthless, stupid fuck.

          Commit suicide.

          1. awe, do you find peace in knowing that you have allies on an online forum? do you think this means that you’re lonely and sad irl?

            1. ScooterB
              August.13.2019 at 8:23 am
              “awe, do you find peace in knowing that you have allies on an online forum? do you think this means that you’re lonely and sad irl?”

              New Hihn sock?

    2. “‘How are we all tolerating this?’: Scaramucci says GOP should consider replacing Trump on 2020 ticket”

      Oh! Oh! Look! Turd posts an opinion piece from WaPo!

    3. Et tu, Mooch?

  6. Ironically the only place liberals leave unregulated are public property for homeless camping etc. I wonder what would happen if an entrepreneur tried to build something there and make money off of it? No cost… prime downtown locations…

    1. Some well meaning folks in LA delivered a bunch of tiny houses to homeless people camped out on unused LA streets. The city hauled them away since they didn’t have electricity and running water. As if cardboard boxes and tents have electricity and running water.

  7. The 13-yr old that sued Donnie-Boy said he made her wear rubber gloves to give him a handjob.

    That is some freak ass shit! Even for a Trump!

    1. Sure Kiddie Raper, we believe you.

      1. like seriously, you put in such an effort to comment on everything it makes me worry about your real life

        1. Smelling more and more of Hihn-stench.

  8. TLDR: local politicians are stupid and instead of letting local citizens suffer for voting for idiots, democratic presidential nominees want to use socialism/ facism to make me pay for idiots

  9. Andrew,

    Zoning laws are the subject of state laws. And as you know the housing crises are in the states controlled by liberal/socialists/progressive democrats! So that is not something to bring to the federal government, that is unless you as a progressive intend to make all laws the right of the federal government. But that would require a change of the constitution to do so.

  10. I would say something about blind squirrels, but I don’t want to disparage the blind, or squirrels.

  11. Luckily, none of these Democrats running be President and its likely that we will never see a Democrat President ever again.

  12. I really don’t think we want to federalize local zoning laws. That is a spectacularly bad idea. Let the states and municipalities decide how their land will be used.

  13. Yang has a legitimate point regarding development–with urban America increasingly resembling large-scale ant hives, the solution should be densifying these places as much as possible, irrespective of what is in place now.

    Tear down the older buildings and 40s-50s era projects, and construct even bigger mixed-use structures that combine residential and commercial functions in a single building. People would never have to leave to shop for groceries, clothes, or even entertainment. They could work in the same building where they live, cutting down on automobile traffic. Mass transit would be far easier to implement.

    Build them throughout the coasts. The DC-Boston corridor is already an urbanized landscape–we could put dozens of these environmentally friendly mixed-use structures throughout the corridor, and call it a “Megacity” as a monument to American greatness. Same thing on the SF-San Diego corridor in California. And to save money on a justice system and ensure fairness, we could have a centralized, government-run system that combines the best features of a police force and the courts, so decisions on crimes could be engaged and resolved on the spot by impartial, non-profit constables, rather than spend months or even years making their way through our inefficient legal system where the only people getting a fair shake are rich lawyers.

    Lefties LOVE mass-scaled urban landscapes. This would be a dream come true for them.

    1. I saw what you did there. +1 Dredd.

  14. There are huge, hundreds-of-acres swaths of empty land all around Malibu that could use development of lower-income housing, but Rob Reiner (of Meathead fame) won’t allow it. You won’t hear Yang talking about affordable housing in Malibu, or the Hills or Hollywood. He doesn’t dare.

    1. Come on up to the Bay Area. Probably 90% of the peninsula is environmentally protected, but they’ll still wine about affordable housing. You can’t parody these idiots.

    2. Grease-head Newsom lives in Marin County; somehow Marin has been excused from the requirement for BMR housing…

  15. As President he wants to give away money to everyone and take over local government and run it from the Federal level. Even if I disagree with such zoning laws I have a bigger disagreement with his views on the role of the Federal Government.

  16. The problem is that the homeowners vote, and will dump a city council member, Congressman or anyone who threatens to put apartments in their neighborhoods.

    1. I don’t have a bit of problem with that.

  17. “Booker would tie the spending of federal housing and transportation dollars to cities and states reforming their zoning codes. Castro and Klobuchar have said they’d do something similar.”

    While I generally decry overly-restrictive housing all codes and agree that they can restrict new housing development, this is a State and/or local issue, and quite frankly, not a role for the federal government.

  18. and yet, he still is an idiot

  19. Appreciate and agree with the federalism concerns; however, if Congress did decide to intervene they’ll get a pass under the Commerce = Everything Clause of the constitution. It’s only a matter of time, so we might as well get out in front with some good proposals. How’s this: a Housing Rights Act, modeled on the Voting Rights Act.

    1. Cities get put under federal pre-clearance if (a) the median house price is more than four times the median family income, or (b) the median monthly rental is more than 30% of the median family income, or (c) there is any court finding of discrimination or corruption in granting building permits or zoning variances.

    2. Cities affected can have their own forms but need to accept a Federal Building Permit & Variance Application in lieu of their own. It’s on a 4×6 notecard.

    3. Cities affected need to issue a final grant or denial of any application within 30 days. They can grant without supervision. However, denials require pre-clearance from the Department of Justice Housing Rights Division.

    4. If the city doesn’t hear back from the DOJHRD within the 30 days, the permit is automatically granted.

    5. The national DOJHRD is staffed by half a dozen people hired from homeless camps.

    6. Once under pre-clearance, cities can get out by winning a Supreme Court case showing they’ve been under pre-clearance for 50 years with zero overturned or timed out denials.

    It’s just a suggestion….

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