Free Minds & Free Markets

Ben Carson Battles the NIMBYs

The HUD secretary's desire to tackle restrictive zoning is encouraging, but real reform will have to come from the bottom up.

Progressive urbanists and Ben Carson, President Donald Trump's conservative Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), hardly seem like bosom buddies. That makes Carson's embrace of a core item on the progressives' wish list all the more surprising.

In August, Carson announced that he would be revising Obama-era HUD regulations that required local governments to perform extensive (and expensive) studies of how concentrated their neighborhoods were along class and racial lines, and then come up with plans to remedy the housing segregation they found. In their place, Carson wanted HUD to issue new rules that would put the emphasis not on integrating housing but on building new housing, period. For Carson, that means cracking down on byzantine local zoning codes.

"I want to encourage the development of mixed-income multifamily dwellings all over the place," Carson told The Wall Street Journal. "I would incentivize people who really would like to get a nice juicy government grant" to pursue zoning reform.

Such comments could well have been taken from the script of policy wonks who have rightly identified land-use regulations as the chief cause of staggeringly high housing costs in booming cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.

A flurry of likeminded proposals from across the political spectrum followed Carson's announcement. In September, progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) introduced a bill that would tie federal infrastructure grants to local zoning reforms. The more market-oriented Niskanen Center also proposed conditioning federal funding to states on meeting housing production quotas. All of these proposals, of course, feature Washington meddling in local affairs.

Despite this newfound enthusiasm for looser zoning regulations, however, Carson's comments have not yet translated into concrete policy action.

That could be because the Trump administration is not all that interested in lowering the cost of housing in big blue cities. A more likely explanation is that there's honestly very little the feds can do to convince suburban "NIMBY"s—people who don't want new development in their neighborhoods—and city-dwelling anti-gentrification activists to accept a large apartment building at the end of their tidy, expensive block.

HUD can't tell local governments what zoning regulations to adopt, and the agency can attach only so many strings to federal housing funds. Carson's comments—which reflect a growing, pan-ideological consensus that the best cure for the nation's urban housing shortage is for cities to allow the construction of more housing—are encouraging. But as with most urban policy, the real action will have to start at the bottom.

Photo Credit: Public domain

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  • akita96th||

    I think Ben carson takes his brain out dailey and plays with it. Also Ben carson rolls his shit into little balls and eats it.

  • colorblindkid||

    Ben Carson was at one point the best brain surgeon on the entire planet.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    He was very well-regarded and held a prestigious position, but best on the planet? Maybe by Trump 'only the best' standards . . .

  • Sevo||

    As if a half-educated asshole like you would know...

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I would bet my house against your trailer that Carson was not the best brain surgeon in our world. Why diminish him with childish exaggeration when his accomplishments are ample without the silly puffery?

    What's a trailer fetching in your part of can't-keep-up America these days? Does a declining stock market affect trailer values?

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    It just makes your blood boil that a negro had the nerve to leave your political plantation, doesn't it you sorry-ass worthless piece of crap?

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|12.28.18 @ 11:16AM|#
    "I would bet my house against your trailer that Carson was not the best brain surgeon in our world"

    I wouldn't take your double-wide for free, scumbag. Cost too much to clean the shit out of it since you couldn't be bothered with hook-ups.
    I smell you coming a mile off.

  • The Laissez-Ferret||

    Yeah, the two paragraphs below seem like "ample" accomplishments. If he were a progressive, you'd sing his praises but since he's off the plantation he's just okay. I'm sure the folks whose lives he's improved or saved would have a more positive opinion of his abilities. And I'm sure Johns Hopkins would just allow anyone to lead their surgical department...

    "Ben Carson revolutionized his field in several areas, including hemispherectomies (removal of half of the brain to prevent untreatable severe seizures, such as those caused by Rasmussen's encephalitis). He dramatically increased the safety of the procedure by developing several major surgical innovations, which include better ways of controlling bleeding and infection, as well as an innovative system of incrementally removing specific brain parts as units rather than in whole sections.3

    Dr. Carson has also contributed to new techniques used for conjoined twin separation and accomplished one of the most complex surgical feats in history as the lead surgeon of a team that separated twins joined at the back of the head in a 22-hour-long operation. Known as the doctor who takes cases that no other doctor will risk, Dr. Carson has had outstanding success in spite of this challenge. For example, he has achieved an amazing 80 to 90 percent success rate for difficult-to-treat trigeminal neuralgia."

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    What's your point, Lazy Ferrett? Are you dumb enough to contend that your evidence establishes Carson as the best brain surgeon, or are you just scampering about carrying the right-wing flag, much like a bunch of substandard Alabama teens riding around with a confederate flag on the pickup some Friday night?

  • sharmota4zeb||

    In my area, a trailer costs about $6,000 the last time I checked. The tiny house movement in Central New Jersey liked them.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Arty, you don't even have a trailer, let alone a house. Stop lying. Please supply a list, even a small one, of brain surgeons who are co sidered to be superior to Dr. Carson. Then back that up with a reliable source.

  • akita96th||

    After his reign in HUD I doubt his abilities to simply pick his own nose.

  • WJack||

    Not enough low income housing . . another reason the progressives should not support open borders.

  • A Lady of Reason||

    Exactly! :)

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Anyone who doesn't support open borders is a white nationalist. Progressives realize this, which is why they're quickly moving toward the Koch / Reason position on immigration. This emerging progressive / libertarian consensus is one of the few positive developments of the Drumpf Era.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    It is a positive development and reminds me of the left/ libertarian alliance under the second Bush. Can we make it last after Trump leaves office?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    What about all the black people that do t support open borders because of wage suppression? Have you to,d them that they too are whit nationalists?

  • A Lady of Reason||

    Anything to improve neighborhoods and reduce crime is good...

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    Anything? Doubtful.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Not a fan of a curfew beginning at dusk and enforceable by police shooting to kill any violators on site?

  • The Last American Hero||

    sight, not site.

    grrrr edit button.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Even more bad economic news.

    The World's Richest People Lost $511 Billion in 2018

    This disastrous result would not have happened if Hillary Clinton hadn't been cheated out of the Presidency. But as we all know, Russian hacking produced a Drumpf victory, which ruined the world's economy just like Paul Krugman predicted. If we want the world's richest people to recover their $511 billion, we need to vote Democrat.


  • SimpleRules||

    not sure if sarcasm, but isn't redistribution of wealth a dem plank? This is a victory for you! Congratulations.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That could be because the Trump administration is not all that interested in lowering the cost of housing in big blue cities.

    It would be virtual gerrymandering!

  • I'm Not Sure||

    ""I want to encourage the development of mixed-income multifamily dwellings all over the place," Carson told The Wall Street Journal."

    If people wanted to live in mixed-income multifamily dwellings, they'd just do it. You only need subsidies when you're trying to get people to do things they don't really want to do.

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    Crazy talk

  • Jerryskids||

    If people wanted to live in mixed-income multifamily dwellings, they'd just do it.

    Just like if people wanted to smoke dope or not bake cakes for gay weddings or hire illegal immigrants they'd just do it.

    These progressive cities with their restrictive zoning laws prevent mixed-income multifamily dwellings because while these lily-white upper-class SJW's claim to care so much for the poor and downtrodden, there ain't a goddamn one of them that wants a damn broke-ass nigger as a neighbor. Since they're the ones with the money and the political power so "No Niggers Allowed" is the rule. And don't think you're not a nigger - niggers come in all colors except green.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    Rich white progressives don't want poor people living around them? Who'da thunk it?

  • retiredfire||

    Middle class people, of all political stripes, whose main investment is their house, don't want "mixed-income multifamily dwellings" in their neighborhoods.
    And they're not much good in getting tax dollars out of, for the local politicians, either.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I don't want a homeless shelter in my neighborhood either.

  • Sevo||

    Linx? Indian gov't decides easy commerce is bad; get off your duff, ride your bicycle to the store and buy it:

    "India restricts foreign e-commerce"
    "India is cracking down on some of the e-commerce policies that Walmart and Amazon rely on most, TechCrunch reports.
    The new policy for foreign direct investment, which goes live February 1, bans exclusive sales, bans the sales of products or platforms that a seller is invested in, and limits discounts and cashback offers, the article states."

  • Sevo||

    It's California and it's planned for 'public' (government) ownership. What could go wrong?
    Well, it seems there must be an adult in the room somewhere in the CA government:

    "Public banking plan for California's marijuana industry takes big hit"
    "The push to create a public banking system for cannabis commerce in California fizzled Thursday after a state task force concluded that such a facility would be so legally risky and expensive it would be essentially unworkable.
    The 151-page feasibility report, commissioned by the 18-member Cannabis Banking Working Group, said it would take at least six years to create a cannabis bank and would require state laws to be changed, and that it ultimately couldn't be done anyway without approval from the federal government, which considers marijuana an illegal drug."

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    At least there are still some "adults in the room" who oppose Orange Hitler's latest military blunders.

    Rep. Liz Cheney says she strongly opposes Trump on Syria and Afghanistan

    If only the GOP hadn't been taken over by the white nationalist Putin Puppet alt-right. I wasn't old enough to vote then, but I miss the more respectable Republicans of the neocon era like Cheney and McCain. Granted, a President McCain would probably have appointed Supreme Court justices I disliked. But he'd never dream of doing the insane, irresponsible things Drumpf is doing with respect to foreign policy.


  • Piers Gaveston||

    Make common cause with the Neocons? Ron Paul is rolling over in his grave.

  • Paulpemb||

    Carson keeps a pretty low profile. Despite him being one of the best-known people in the Administration prior to joining it, you don't hear that much about him in the media.

    Whatever he's doing, the Democrats must be terrified of low-income people and minorities finding out about it.

  • Dillinger||

    brain surgeon and politics should have remained in separate universes.

  • Benitacanova||

    Mixed income multifamily dwelling. How does that even work? Who's the urban planning genius that came up with that?

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Who's the urban planning genius that came up with that?"

    The one who has a house on an acre and a half lot that's nowhere near anyplace construction of multifamily housing is even being considered.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Plenty of the new towers going up in New York City are mixed-income multifamily dwelling. The building owners allow the higher rent tenants access to the more expensive amenities to even out the deal.

  • You're Kidding||

    It is the epitome of socialism. Align everything with the lowest common denominator. Equal suffering for all.

  • You're Kidding||

    As a homeowner (I've got two actually) and, as an American who highly values private property as any libertarian should, I've come to the realization that there is nothing wrong with NIMBYSM. After all, if you like what you've got, why shouldn't you care about preserving the status quo? Especially if the changes that are being proposed would likely impact your enjoyment of your property?

    I moved into a very expensive part of a relatively low income city because we got the best housing value there. And, I didn't want to suffer the snobbery of the more expensive cities. But, I now realize that may have been a mistake.

    The "snobs" in those elite enclaves don't have to deal with low income rif raff that decimate the quality of life for everyone around them. They had it right all along moving to such exclusive places. Let them eat cake!

    I'm jealous.

  • Curly4||

    As surprising as this is to some conservatives can and do add sense to the system that today is senseless.

  • Taylor Patent Attorney||

    Yes, it would take at least six years to create a cannabis bank and would require state laws to be changed...


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