Greater Greater Washington

Candidates want affordable housing, balk at more housing

One of the most significant ways to ensure some affordable housing is to provide more housing. It's not the only way and not sufficient on its own, but the clear connection between housing supply and price appears lost on multiple candidates for the April 23 DC Council at-large special election.


Photo by james.thompson on Flickr.

At a Chevy Chase Community Association meeting last week, many candidates affirmed support for affordable housing, according to a report on the Chevy Chase listserv, but then wavered or even outright opposed allowing people to rent out basements, garages, or parts of their homes to create new housing opportunities.

Lorrie Scally wrote:

Patrick Mara said "No" to the rentals because he feared they would result in an overflow of students into already crowded schools.

Meanwhile, according to Scally, "Matthew Frumin expressed his support for ADU rentals in all residential neighborhoods," while Elissa Silverman said she wants to ensure they don't impact neighbors much (similar to what she said on Let's Choose DC).

Yet, Scally said, "The candidates' presentations gave support to DC education issues and affordable housing for residents." Mara has endorsed affordable housing spending in the past; on one of the Let's Choose questions he actually answered, he said, "I'm certain we can find the millions need to fund libraries and affordable housing initiatives." He told the DC realtors, "The cultural diversity of DC is at risk if we do not protect and build affordable housing."

Anita Bonds did not attend the forum.

Adding housing must be a part of the housing strategy

About 1,000 more people move into the District each month than the number who leave. Moreover, the demand to come into DC is even greater than this.

Absent enough new housing, many people who want to come here will rent or buy units in gentrifying neighborhoods where prices are still lower than elsewhere. That raises housing prices in those neighborhoods, hastening the problem of some longtime residents being or feeling priced out, and others deciding to take a windfall and sell their houses at a big profit.

If we want longtime residents to stay, an important element of the equation is to find somewhere else for the people to live who want to come into DC. Basement and garage apartments are one important potential source. We already have large single-family houses with one or two retirees who aren't actually using the whole house. Letting them rent the space is a win-win for everyone except for those who want to keep the neighborhood exclusive and underpopulated relative to its 1950 size.

A lot of people in Ward 3 would rather the population growth go somewhere else. A lot of people vote in Ward 3, and several candidates are clearly seeking their votes. But letting a whole section of the city opt out of growth is not the right policy. It harms poorer neighborhoods by diverting more housing pressure to other areas, hastening gentrification.

How do the candidates stack up?

Four years ago, when I endorsed Patrick Mara, I perhaps assumed too readily that because he lives in a denser neighborhood and bicycles, he also supports a growing city. He might, but he came out strongly against a new matter-of-right building in Chevy Chase, opposes accessory dwellings, and refused to answer either of the two Let's Choose questions on growth. That's disappointing and a little surprising for someone who claims to want less government regulation.

I'm also disappointed Elissa Silverman has not been stronger on smart growth. She has less reason to try to pander for votes in Ward 3, when Ward 6 has become the highest-voting ward. Many of Ward 3's supposedly-liberal residents and newspapers nonetheless seem to go for whomever will lower their own taxes. As a supporter of affordable housing and equity for all neighborhoods, she also shouldn't tolerate some residents west of Rock Creek trying to redline growth and change solely to the east.

Unfortunately, while Matthew Frumin has been willing to stand up for (reasonable) growth more vocally than others, this morning's poll seems to confirm that he is most likely to play a "spoiler" role. Our readers, contributors, and I myself have often wrestled with how to think through the game theory of a race, and decide how much to weigh various policy positions or trade off candidate strengths versus electability.

This post is not an endorsement; our policy is to decide endorsements by a poll of recent, active contributors, which came out clearly for Silverman. On balance, I'm still going to vote for her, too. Besides, zoning isn't the only issue that matters, and she has some definite strengths on workforce development, oversight of city agencies, and more.

But just because we've endorsed should not prevent us from helping inform readers about candidates' positions, whether or not they comport with our endorsement (in this case, it's mostly a neutral effect), or holding candidates responsible for staking out good positions.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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I don't understand why anyone things Mara is a viable alternative to Bonds really. I haven't really seen any positions that makes me think he appeals to many people outside of far NW and maybe Cap Hill.

by Alan B. on Apr 15, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

I wish someone would ask these candidates (and people who espouse these ideas generally) how you specifically increase affordability without any new buildings.

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

"How to think through the GAME THEORY of the race...." I have worked for elected public officials. I've been on way to many campaigns first as a volunteer and then in sundry roles. I'm a constant voter and consumer of data, articles, and news regarding elections. This is the first time i've ever encountered this phrase used in this context. Maybe this is like "he loves this area which is, in many ways, greater than those...." In itself that is a careful construction that can imply to others that it conceals (at least) as much as it may reveal....

by Tom M on Apr 15, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

"One of the most significant ways to ensure some affordable housing is to provide more housing".

I see this time and time again here, but it simply isn't true. If "someone" were to drop 100K units of new construction housing on the market tomorrow, perhaps the Class B housing would price adjust downward enough to make it affordable to a larger portion of the populace, but it isn't going to happen.

What major metropolitan city in the US has what GGW supporters would say is "sufficient affordable housing"? Does NYC, Chicago, LA, SF have sufficient quantities of affordable housing? If not, then why not?

Folks have to realize DC is not an island onto itself. Just as DC can't solve the regions poverty problem by itself, it is lunacy to think that DC can fix its so called "affordable housing problem" without a massive and collective policy change in VA and MD as well. DC is a 600K person enclave within a 6 million person region.

by affhousing on Apr 15, 2013 2:09 pm • linkreport

Tom M: It's come up here on multiple occasions before, especially in the Orange-Biddle-Shapiro race last year.

by David Alpert on Apr 15, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

affhousing

GGW addresses the limitations on supply in the suburbs as well as in DC. Nonetheless, the subject of this thread is the city council race in DC. I do not recall if GGW took a stand in the recent City of Alex council race - that was perhaps even more driven by urbanist issues than this race - but in any case the pro density slate mostly won.

As for the four cities you mention, Chicago comes a lot closer than any of the others to sufficient affordable housing. That does not mean things are easy for the truely poor. I have been to NYC recently, and it has certainly not reached equilibrium by a long shot.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 15, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

Housing is actually cheaper (with comparble space/quality) if you go out into the hinterlands of MD and VA. But that doesn't help people that want/need to live in the core. Yes obviously Arlington and Alexandria and transit accessible portions within the beltway or so make a big difference. There is a very real problem with accessible housing prices within the city. No one is saying that fancy condos are suddenly going to become affordable for a lot more people. Right now though there is a lot of competition for decent Class B units as anyone who has recently looked for an apartment in the city can tell you. New development will lower prices on Class A stuff which can allow some people to upgrade and take pressure off class B stock. Adding thousands of ADUs is probably just as if not more important than new development, but both are important.

by Alan B. on Apr 15, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

David - thanks for this thoughtful follow up to the GGW endorsement piece.

While not quite a mea culpa it at least admits this is a trickier call than the original GGW endorsement which still really baffles me.

Particularly after Elissa Silverman came out for municipal parking garages recently which is not being soft on smart growth but out right anti smart growth - as a fan I can tell you I will not lose respect for you or GGW if you actually step back from the endorsement which something like this really ought to cause some consideration of.

Sadly after equivocating at every turn to try to earn as many votes from the anti's as possible neither Frumin nor Silverman earned the endorsement of the latest anti development group in Ward 3 as Neighbors for Neighborhoods endorsed Anita Bonds last week.

Not that this group has ever demonstrated that they are particularly thoughtful but that they think an executive with Ft Myers construction is going to object to development demonstrates how illogical they are as well as how much I presume Ms. Bonds pandered to them trying to get some sort of toehold in Upper NW.

But I would like to profoundly disagree with the assertion in your piece that a lot of people in Ward 3 would rather see population growth/changes/development/smart growth/multi modality go elsewhere.

I've attended dozens and dozens of meetings in Ward 3 over the years where various iterations of these issues come up and I can tell you that it is the same small group of residents who scream about these things over and over. Sure some new people float in and out and the groups name changes but I can tell you the folks who are the leaders in the effort to keep things stuck in place all fit comfortably around my modest dining room table (though there would not be room for all of their single occupancy vehicles on my street).

There are many many folks in Ward 3 who in fact are progressive and thoughtful and open minded and involved who want to see change and recognize that Ward 3 should not be an exception and I hope GGW will not repeat the anti's talking point that everyone in Upper NW is opposed to change.

So thanks to GGW for doing your part to help these ideas germinate in all parts of the city but don't ignore that progress has been made in the most obstinate corner of the District.

Thanks again for the more nuanced explanation of where you stand on the At-Large race.

by TomQ on Apr 15, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

In terms of urban amenities NYC still knocks DC out of the park.

I'm defining urban amenities as:
Public Transit Access (walking distance to subway)
Walking distance to retail/other things
Access to Job Centers
Cultural opportunities (concerts and stuff)

NYC has some expensive housing sure, it also has A LOT of housing to make up for everyone else as well.

And Chicago and LA are also very affordable for big cities and good models for DC to consider.

So how do you provide affordable housing without building anything?

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

Folks have to realize DC is not an island onto itself. Just as DC can't solve the regions poverty problem by itself, it is lunacy to think that DC can fix its so called "affordable housing problem" without a massive and collective policy change in VA and MD as well. DC is a 600K person enclave within a 6 million person region.

Let's argue this is true - I'm still not sure it's relevant.

The end result, either way, is that DC needs to allow more housing to be built. DC alone won't 'fix' a regional problem, but I'm not sure what that is supposed to say about DC's policies.

by Alex B. on Apr 15, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

In terms of urban amenities NYC still knocks DC out of the park

I'm speaking in terms of being able to find something at certain price ranges. I may not be living at a fashionable address but I can at least get to those places without too much trouble much easier than I've been able to down here.

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

the inner suburbs are doing far more to fix the regional housing problem by allowing new market rate supply than they are to solve the regional poverty problem, Im sure most would agree.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 15, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

@David Alpert - So, i'm a confirmed political junky with experience. Turns out i've also done a bit of work in behavioral sciences and economics of choice -- including extensive game theory experiments. There are at least five ways you might consider "game theory of the race" to apply in this set of current circumstances. Care to elaborate what you might mean? Game theory doesn't mean simply doing more/better analyses BEFORE making an endorsement.... as you no doubt know.

by Tom M on Apr 15, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

Walker,

Then again, you have Arlington building a new homeless shelter (And lots of housing all over the county) and an explicit (and stupid) argument against it is "why should Arlington be taking care of DC's homeless?".

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

Drumz, plus, recently nearly having been in the housing market in the North Jersey area, I can say for sure that you can find cheaper apartments in Hudson County than most of the DC core (EOTR being the likely exception in my mind).

by Alan B. on Apr 15, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

@ Tom Q

Right on defending those of us in Ward 3 who support smart growth. The fact of the matter is that the those most energized in Ward 3, and those who attended the forum mentioned and who stacked the deck so that the Ward 3 Democrats voted to oppose the zoning rewrite, tend to be the NIMBYs. A lot easier to be against something than to be for it.

@ David

It would have been a lot easier for a Frumin supporter like me, when he sees the poll results from this morning, to think about Silverman if she had done anything but pander to the NIMBYs. Let's build municipal parking garages. More regulations on cyclists (they must have red blinky lights). ADUs only after neighborhood reviews. Please.

Her appeal to Ward 3 voters has been, well I may decide to vote for higher taxes, but rest assured, none of those disadvantaged people I purport to want to help is gonna move anywhere near where you live.

I'm still voting for Frumin as at least he has been consistent on his positions and is on the right side of the smart growth issues.

by fongfong on Apr 15, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

Tom M: What I mean is, thinking about who is going to win, your own preferences, and trying to decide how to vote based on the two. Maybe I should have said "strategic voting."

by David Alpert on Apr 15, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

@drumz: In terms of urban amenities, I'd say that Manhattan knocks DC out of the park, but it has less than 20% of NYC's population. The bulk of the affordable housing in NYC is in the outer boroughs, where the availability of the urban amenities you list isn't quite so stellar.

by thm on Apr 15, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

"(And lots of housing all over the county) and an explicit (and stupid) argument against it is "why should Arlington be taking care of DC's homeless?"."

Do they really think DC's homeless are flocking to Arlington?

I was under the impression DC had housed the considerable majority of the homeless for the entire region for several decades now.

by Hillman on Apr 15, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

I'm surprised that Mara doesn't support ADU's.

Particularly since Republicans generally take a 'use your private property as you see fit' attitude.

Disappointing stance on his part.

Makes me less likely to vote for him.

by Hillman on Apr 15, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

@ Hillman

Don't forget, Mara is also against the matter of right building at 5333 Connecticut. So when it comes to property rights, he's no Republican, at least until election day.

by fongfong on Apr 15, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

You have missed the point that the opponents bring to the fore: that housing policy affects the schools. Since it is the schools that are responsible for the high property values in W3, anything that might diminish the schools there will do likewise for housing prices. Having large numbers of low-income people move in will make the schools less attractive, and lower the apparent performance. While this makes housing more affordable, it also cuts into the investment value of the property.

Schools are the most important factor in housing prices.

by goldfish on Apr 15, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

thm,

But even in those outer boroughs there is still a lot of transportation access. It could definitely use a lot of improvements and upgrades but there is still a lot compared to here.

Funnily enough my brother in law saved money moving from Brooklyn to Manhattan. He's in a two bedroom compared to my one but his half of the rent is less than my whole.

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

Why are all these editorials leaving Zukerberg out?

He's most likely to get my vote at this point.

by H St LL on Apr 15, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

Having large numbers of low-income people move in

We're not even talking about low-income families. We're talking about the middle class still.

Affordable housing =/= public housing.

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

@ David Alpert - Strategic voting implies two things. First, that there may be a voting bloc subject to influence to cast their ballots in a particular direction. Second, that the voting bloc or that element of it subject to influence may be PIVOTAL in influencing the outcome. In the case of this At Large election, seems these are not likely to be true. Is there evidence of a cohesive voting bloc around the issues you attend to? Has that voting bloc been subject to influence? If so, is there evidence that the voting bloc has made a difference materially (and publically acknowledged) in recent DC races? My take is: 1) no; 2) no; and 3) no. O-3 means that the "strategic voting" terms may not apply here. I'm not picking on semantics here.

by Tom M on Apr 15, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

@drumz: We're not even talking about low-income families.

...says you. Being renters, they will, nevertheless, have a lot less money than the owners in that neighborhood.

Please bear in mind I am only trying to explain why many people oppose this idea; I do not agree with it so please don't shoot the messenger. But what they bring up should be addressed, if for no other reason than they vote, and will organize against it.

by goldfish on Apr 15, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

drumz

Im not saying none of the inner suburbs are doing anything about poverty. They do some, and generally more than the outer suburbs. But I agree with some DC residents, that even the most progressive (on poverty) inner suburbs do not bear a the proportionate share of the burden of poverty that DC does, and that they are mostly not eager to do so.

But to the extent that the "burden" of creating cheaper housing can be met by increasing density of market rate units, they are mostly QUITE eager to "help" the region deal with that. There are NIMBYs of course, but esp in ArlCo and Alex they tend to lose more often than they win.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 15, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

Walker,
I'm sorry I didn't mean to imply that's what you were saying. Your statement just reminded me of one of the generally more ridiculous fights going on in Arlington right now.

I pretty much agree with you otherwise.

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

Goldfish,

Well one reason so many are renters is because the limits on housing makes it expensive to own. I'm in the 25% tax bracket. My family can't afford to buy right now unless we wanted to move out to Haymarket or stay in a one BR condo closer in.

by drumz on Apr 15, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

@TomQ said "Sadly after equivocating at every turn to try to earn as many votes from the anti's as possible neither Frumin nor Silverman earned the endorsement of the latest anti development group in Ward 3 as Neighbors for Neighborhoods endorsed Anita Bonds last week." Yep. Frumin all of a sudden supports reviewing every matter of right project so that the antis can get their hooks in. Trying to parse differences on smart growth between Frumin and Silverman is like trying to parse policy differences between McCain and Romney.

by Moscow on Apr 15, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

@Tom M

Do you have a point? Or are you just continuously taking swipes at everything election-related here? Which campaign are you working for?

You are wrong about strategic (tactical) voting:
the practice of casting one's vote not for the party of one's choice but for the second strongest contender in order to defeat the likeliest winner

by MLD on Apr 15, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

@MLD -- I am too old and to worn out to work a campaign anymore. My point still stands and you conflate two concepts. There is voting for the second strongest candidate. But unless that vote or bloc of votes is pivotal the effort is not strategic.

by Tom M on Apr 15, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

While it's absolutely true that schools are a factor they are hardly the only factor. According to the census only 13% of the Ward 3 population is under 18. Even if you figure out 2 parents for each child that's only maybe 30% of adults that have kids in schools there. And I'd guess a sizeable portion goes to private schools or charters. I'd say high property values are strongly correlated to the size and location or property more than anything. Given the rent for apartments in the area, I don't see it becoming a haven for many low income people anytime soon. All it would really do is take some pressure off gentrifying neighborhoods.

But I don't disagree that it's probably an effective scare tactic even if it isnt strictly speaking all the true.

by Alan B. on Apr 15, 2013 3:05 pm • linkreport

"Voting for the person that you agree with that also has the best chance to win" is all David is saying here. Your nitpicky posts make it sound like you have an ulterior motive behind them.

by MLD on Apr 15, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

@MLD No ulterior motive than maybe to point out that the emperor has no clothes at least when it comes to this election. Evidence from past endorsements and elections suggests this is no change. Naked. Without influence on the outcome.

by Tom M on Apr 15, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

"Without influence on the outcome. "

In the OP DA expresses some thoughts about the candidates and their stands, and why HE is voting as he is. Nowhere does he state that he influences a large body of votes (and I agree with MLD about the meaning of strategic voting - which is from the POV of the voter, not whether its of strategic importance to a campaign).

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 15, 2013 3:21 pm • linkreport

No ulterior motive than maybe to point out that the emperor has no clothes at least when it comes to this election. Evidence from past endorsements and elections suggests this is no change. Naked. Without influence on the outcome.

OK, so you DO have a point, which is that this blog is pointless and has no influence. Oh, and that past endorsements (presumably Gray?) were mistakes or bad or whatever. Got it.

by MLD on Apr 15, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Aren't most ADU's pretty small? We are talking about tiny alleyway carriage house dwellings or basement apartments.

I would suspect these would mostly be single occupancy, no kids.

So I'm not sure what the impact on the schools would be.

Except for more taxpayers to pay for schools.

by Hillman on Apr 15, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

This is a bit mea culpa'ish but I'll buy it. It probably would've been a good idea to offer this BEFORE the endorsement rather than after the fact. Or at least something different than, "we never said we would base the endorsement off of what the collective body here @GGW decided."

Endorsements are just that...endorsements. The candidate's job is to campaign and get the votes. If Silverman does lose, it'll provide clear evidence that the "progressive" crowd needs to undergo a serious self-examination. A losing record is a forgettable one.

by HogWash on Apr 15, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

The way that London, Paris, Berlin, and almost every other European dense city has promoted density and affordable housing is dividing the huge residences in the center into smaller units.

In DC, by contrast, we keep R-4/5 limited to 2 units, usually meaning living quarters of wasteful footage. Then we try to make up for this by putting new mid-rises on the more commercial end of streets, creating pop-up type buildings seeming at random. This works for the big developers since small subdivisions are usually done by small architects or even homeowners. And developers run what passes for planning here.

ADU's are cute but their effect is minimal if any. Until the zoning is changed to allow more units in the vast majority of the city's present residential fabric, the population won't return to 1950 levels when typically 5 people resided in each "house".

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 15, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

ADU's are cute but their effect is minimal if any. Until the zoning is changed to allow more units in the vast majority of the city's present residential fabric, the population won't return to 1950 levels when typically 5 people resided in each "house".

Short of electing Napoleon III as mayor and getting a modern-day Haussmann to replace that residential fabric, I'm not sure what the answer to this is. I'd be fine with using eminent domain to seize all the existing residences in the city and just rebuilding from the ground up.

Except the houses on my street, of course. :)

by oboe on Apr 15, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

Tom: R-5 allows any number of units in a building (though I think other laws restrict having a huge number of tiny units or something). What you say is correct for R-4.

by David Alpert on Apr 15, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

"Since it is the schools that are responsible for the high property values in W3, anything that might diminish the schools there will do likewise for housing prices."

Assuming that housing prices are substantially schools-driven doesn't mean that things that someone believes might diminish school quality would definitely lead to diminished school quality. I don't presume an uptick in ADUs will lower school quality but even if it could have that affect, why do we presume this is the final word? Why wouldn't we presume parents would demand (and get) improvements in their public schools to offset any new problems? Is there a history of extremely vulnerable schools in Ward 3 that are unable to maintain their standards in the face of any potential problems? I'd always prefer to look at problems as contingent than deterministic.

by Damon L. on Apr 15, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

According to the census, there are roughly 100k or so single family homes. It's not going to add a lot maybe if you are talking about getting back to 800k overnight but another 10k ADUs could probably be added in this city within a year with little more work on the part of the government than updated regulations. I doubt conventional developemnt would keep up with that and anyway they are not in any mutually exclusive. It also has the added benefit of diffusing new density so that certain neighborhoods go through all the turmoil. Yes in the longterm we seriously have to rethink some of the low density areas that are right by metro stations etc, but for now ADUs seem like a no-brainer.

by Alan B. on Apr 15, 2013 4:17 pm • linkreport

Anyone know how one could look up the average household size from back when DC population was at its peak?

by oboe on Apr 15, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

oboe: There's a slide on this in the OP presentation for the zoning update, on page 8:

https://www.communicationsmgr.com/projects/1355/docs/ZRR%20PRESENTATION%202013.pdf#page=8

Average household size in 1950: 3.2. Average size in 2010: 2.11.

Number of households with children is significantly down from 1950 (though rising again now); households with seniors, way way up.

by David Alpert on Apr 15, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

Aren't we overestimating the numbers of those who might even be interested in building an ADU? Sure, it might be very little good reason to ban them but doesn't this assume that these homeowners (even retired ones) would want to go through the process of setting up additional rental income...better yet become a landlord?

by HogWash on Apr 15, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

Are you saying that we shouldn't make something possible since no one will probably want to do it? That seems like non-point to me. Even a few thousand extra units a year would be great for the city and diversity of housing options in many areas.

by Alan B. on Apr 15, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

@Alan B

I would guesstimate the number is much much lower than that. You said 10k of the current 100K. To add an ADU, the homeowner has to have the ability too (space/carriage house/empty basement etc) as well as the desire to be a landlord, and the capital/willingness to add debt financing to convert their unused space to an ADU.

Without any of those three, it isn't going to happen. If there are 100k Single Family Homes, I would venture to say those three things would occur in somewhere around 300-500 per year. There are a huge number that will never be interested. IE the lawyer who lives in Spring Valley is not going to convert his detached 2-car garage to a ADU, regardless of how the stars lined up.

by Kyle-W on Apr 15, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

I think the demand for ADUs may be underestimated.

I seem to recall that one of the provisions was that you could re-locate your ADU from your existing basement to the back of your property, in a carriage house type structure.

I think getting an entire basement of living space added to a smaller house on, say, Capitol Hill, would appeal to a lot of people.

Especially if they already have the carriage house type structure.

by Hillman on Apr 15, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

oboe- You don't need to bring in Napoloen and Haussmann, just allow more than 2 units in R-4 and more in R-5. That's the vast majority of our housing stock even in the center.

An example: across from me at 1410 S a shell was just renovated. The maximum unit # is 2 since it's R4. One unit of I think 1500 s' sold for about $1M and a second with a half-length roof addition of I think 1800 sq' sold for $1.3M. And yet less than 100 feet away in the commercial end of the block a new 125-unit just opened. Worse, the typical "2-unit" in the block is a house of 2000-3000sq' with a basement rental unit that sells for about $1.5M. This is right off 14th in the city's center.

These houses were originally built as single family when families were large. By 1950 many had been converted to multiple units. But during the renovation period the draw was that real estate prices in the center were dirt cheap and so most houses were renovated back into luxurious single units of huge square footage, often for single people. Those buildings that weren't grandfathered are back to 2-unit limits. The unit limit in R-4 (and R-5) artificially mandates these large wasteful units. Even allowing one more unit in R-4 and R-5 would drastically increase density and affordability.

In my neighborhood at least, most carriage houses are already dwelling units (including my own). ADU's won't make any difference.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 15, 2013 5:16 pm • linkreport

Even a few thousand extra units a year would be great for the city and diversity of housing options in many areas.

Alan, but I still think that number is too high. Even w/those who have basements set up now, most homeowners (living in the home) won't go through the process of renting out basements. I imagine an even smaller number would be interesting in renting out ADU's.

by HogWash on Apr 15, 2013 5:16 pm • linkreport

@ Tom M, I'm not sure what you're referring to in the rest of your post, but "game theory of the race," means the nature of strategic interactions in the race. In a race with more than two major candidates, a voter's most preferred candidate may not be the best candidate to vote for, if that candidate ends up losing. In such a race, a strategic vote has to take everyone else's vote into account, and that's what "game theory" refers to.

by George on Apr 15, 2013 5:53 pm • linkreport

IN other news, current residents are far more interested in livability than potential future benefits of density.

by charlie on Apr 15, 2013 6:00 pm • linkreport

Alan B./Kyle W -- yes, one year isn't realistic. maybe 10K units isn't realistic either. But definitely thousands. My Takoma/Manor Park neighborhood could probably accommodate many hundreds, e.g., my block could fit about 30.

I have come up with a system for doing ADU production at scale. It might be something to pursue.

The cost for building an ADU isn't that bad. But it would cost the same to build/connect utilities. A trench will have to be dug and pipes laid for water and sewage. The trench can probably be used for gas and electric too, but making the connections won't be cheap.

That makes producing ADUs more expensive than I first thought.

You can also take the opportunity of constructing ADUs to also build a thermal heating system for the entire property, also expensive. But it could be another revenue stream from the process.

by Richard Layman on Apr 15, 2013 7:29 pm • linkreport

Tom M, I have never worked on a campaign, but I instantly knew what David was talking about. And since YOU have talked about strategic voting in the past, I don't see why you're confused and, furthermore, I have no idea what you're talking about. What does strategic voting have to do with voting blocs? I go to vote for myself, not a bloc.

My only theory is that you're the one conflating two ideas. In this post, David was talking about how to decide who to VOTE for, but you're talking about how to decide who to ENDORSE. These are obviously two different decisions.

"But unless that vote or bloc of votes is pivotal the effort is not strategic."

Sure it is. Strategy has to do with the motive for actions, not the outcome.

"No ulterior motive than maybe to point out that the emperor has no clothes at least when it comes to this election. Evidence from past endorsements and elections suggests this is no change. Naked. Without influence on the outcome."

Well, I think this is overstating things. GGW has never claimed that it swings elections with its endorsements. In fact, most of the evidence shows that endorsements have little value. So GGW is just like the Washington Post, the Sierra Club and Donald Trump in that people don't vote for someone just because they endorse them. The only ones claiming that they have influence are the people, like yourself, who get bent out of shape about their endorsement.

BTW, I can't wait for Silverman to earn me some pizza by finishing third or better.

by David C on Apr 15, 2013 9:30 pm • linkreport

Link to your comment on strategic voting.

"My concern is whether to support someone i don't care for (Mara) to try and help ensure that people i really want OUT OF OFFICE (Brown, Bond) aren't punching the ticket back."

by David C on Apr 15, 2013 9:33 pm • linkreport

@affhousing: Texas' major metros are usually given as good examples of "elastic" housing supply, where supply has grown to match demand and thus maintained relative affordability even during the recent housing super-cycle.

by Payton on Apr 15, 2013 10:28 pm • linkreport

Tom:

Various groups have fought the use of Capitol Hill carriage houses as dwelling units for as long as I can remember.

There's a sizeable pent-up demand for these on the Hill.

And rents are sky high on the Hill.

Hard to put a number on it, but I can see several people per block doing this.

by Hillman on Apr 16, 2013 6:59 am • linkreport

One of the most significant ways to ensure against traffic congestion is to provide more roads. One of the most significant ways to ensure some affordable housing is to provide more housing.

Induced demand affects the things you like and don't like.

by crin on Apr 16, 2013 7:01 am • linkreport

Crin, roads differ from houses in that the more you build, the more people use. VMT goes up. But building more housing won't cause people to own more homes.

by David C on Apr 16, 2013 8:40 am • linkreport

Ok admittedly my timespan was overly optimistic but there is certainly potential. Just about any townhouse in Ward 1 has a basement but if you get up to Petworth or so it starts thinning out. Obviously there is significant investment involved but I am not sure so many people are willing to turn down an extra $10,000 a year in income? Just about any basement or carriage house can be converted. Yes it probably won't happen in Palisades or Georgetown or Chevy Chase very much at all, but like I said if only 1 in 10 make an ADU that's 10k right there.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 9:09 am • linkreport

Yes it probably won't happen in Palisades or Georgetown or Chevy Chase very much at all, but like I said if only 1 in 10 make an ADU that's 10k right there.

Understood. But I thought the question was about whether these ADU's would have any real impact wrt affordable housing. I believe even 1 to 10 is too charitable.

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

crin -- actually the best way to reduce traffic congestion _on roads_ is to provide more opportunities for people to get around _not using cars_ by walking, biking, and transit, especially transit underground, or in dedicated transit ways.

It's about optimal mobility modes.

As long as you are going to occupy 100 s.f. on the street with a car to move one person, you are going to have traffic congestion.

It's a space question, elementary physics. Building more roads doesn't really help, because of induced demand, sure, but also because of the reality that taking 100 s.f. to move one person is not sustainable.

by Richard Layman on Apr 16, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

@drumz: I'm in the 25% tax bracket. My family can't afford to buy right now unless we wanted to move out to Haymarket or stay in a one BR condo closer in.

Responsibility takes money, and becoming a homeowner is all about juggling resources, setting priorities, and living within your budget -- i.e., responsibility. People without money should not become homeowners.

I hope you earn more soon; only then can you make the jump.

BTW, if adopted the ADUs will become a factor in the market very gradually, probably too slowly to help you.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

crin

if we were providing housing rent free, I would be very concerned about folks over using housing. That can be an issue with certain rent control or public housing programs. it is not with market rate housing.

Unlike some here, am I not particularly concerned with over provision of fully priced roadways. Only free ones.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

How do you know that we "supposedly-liberal" Ward 3 residents vote based on who will lower our taxes? I'ts unfounded and I find it offensive. I vote based on who I think has the best ability to balance the needs of the whole city (including helping those with long-standing roots in the city stay here--not just providing housing for the influx of predominantly white, young professionals.) Paying our taxes takes a big bite out of our retirement income but we do not vote based on trying to get out of doing our share.

by Ward 3 voter on Apr 16, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

Goldfish,

That's the thing, in virtually any other area of the country I could afford the type of house/neighborhood I want. Even if I make less than what I do here. We are living in the the Gated City.

http://www.amazon.com/Gated-City-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B005KGATLO

Which comes back to I don't see how there is any real strategy of allowing more people to live where they want to live that doesn't include the building of more housing.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

People without money should not become homeowners.

And I guess they also shouldn't want or expect to become homeowners in their city of residence..which seems like an odd position to take.

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 10:04 am • linkreport

"Responsibility takes money,"

Yah. How MUCH money it takes depends on the local housing market though. Which in this area is high - in PART because limits on supply make it difficult for the market to keep up with demand. The limit on ADUs being ONE of those limits, which make little sense, and make housing less affordable.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

@drumz: The comparison is not helpful, because wages are higher in the "good" cities, due to the higher housing costs. You can probably afford a palace in Detroit, but who can make a living there? Conversely in NYC you'd be lucky to live in Manhattan at all at your current rate of pay, but otoh whatever job you get there will probably pay more.

BTW, the people fleeing the nice cities are mostly retirees cashing out, and on balance, more people are trying to move into those places than not (otherwise housing price would be declining). Makes a huge difference if you are working or living off of savings.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

My personal example is Richmond. My estimates is that I could make a third less than what I do now and still be ready to buy a house in a walkable neighborhood (I'd miss metro, but the city is small enough to where I can reasonably cover everything by bike) in a couple of years.

So yeah, I make plenty of money in DC. But the cost of housing is so far is way over that marginal increase.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

"Which comes back to I don't see how there is any real strategy of allowing more people to live where they want to live that doesn't include the building of more housing."

eh. More housing will be built. Everyone was afraid Gray would pull back on Fenty's initiatives to encourage growth, and he didn't. Pols need votes. So talk about how great growth is, and also try to curry favor with anyone who feels threatened by it. Some will walk away from their promises to Ward 3 "NIMBYs" (not implying all in ward 3 are nimbys) while others will try to split differences somehow. While I appreciate DAs 'strategic' musings, I wouldnt worry that ANY result of this election will mean an anti-growth council.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

@AWitC -- we are all aware of the economics. What this does not address is how ADUs affect the quality of living here.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

goldfish

A. thats been addressed multiple times on GGW. And I see nothing added here.

B. if the economics is clear, than theres no reason to lecture Drumz on his personal finances. Do you think that allowing people like Drumz into ADUs in ward 3 will lower the quality of the schools?

Enrichissez-vous, in defense of privilege, is not a compelling argument IMO.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 10:27 am • linkreport

Walker,

I have faith that it'll happen in general. It just always baffles me that people seem to talk about a big game about needing more affordable housing but then balk at the prospect of building more. Or they actively denigrate it every time something is built and the rent/cost seems expensive to them as that single instance disproves the whole concept.

Goldfish,
ADUs allow more people to live in popular neighborhoods which increases demands for local retail and transportation. Moreover they provide income to the homeowners and increase the value of the home.

Any other issues that people bring up (impact on schools, parking, etc.) are best dealt with at those levels rather than trying to ram through a bunch of policy preferences through the prevention of allowing people to live somewhere.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

schools

eh. The folks moving into ADUs are probably similar in income to the folks who moved into SFHs in some of these areas 30 or 40 years ago - who couldnt afford a SFH there now. Those are the folks who made the schools in ward 3 desirable - not folks who can afford million dollar homes, so much.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

And its fine for homeowners to be concerned about property values. But Ward 3 has retained much of its value. So even if you're trying to sell today you likely are doing well with the sale price. If you don't plan on moving for years and even decades then I don't see why what things like ADUs or a mixed use development on a major street really should sway you. In 30 years we could all be dead from a nuclear war. Or you'd find that values stayed up because you live in a desireable neighborhood. So desireable in fact, that people are converting their garages to rent out to people to live in.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

AWitC: in defense of privilege, is not a compelling argument IMO.

That is what "property rights" are all about.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

@AWitC: does northern VA allow ADUs?

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

but there is no "property right" to having the government maintain regulations to artificially keep the price of housing high. If anyone thinks there is, they are free to retain a lawyer to sue, if and when limits on ADUs are reduced per the new zoning code. Im sure if there is a tenable legal case, the courts will agree. Thats not what I see happening though - I see people exerting political influence to maintain regulations that no court would consider part of "property rights". And that, IMO, is privilege. And the defense of it, in response to the harm it does to housing affordability, is basically "enrichissez-vous"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

NoVa does not have a zoning code. Each individual jurisdiction has its own zoning code. I dont know the stance of each on ADU's but I believe they vary.

I do not know the position of Fairfax County, where I live. I do not think Fairfax is currently updating its zoning code (arlington is, i believe). If anyone is proposing a change in the FFX county code that would relax restrictions on ADUs, I would be inclined to support it. Especially of course in areas with high quality transit. Of which there are precious few in FFX.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

I do often hear about apts for rent in houses in FFX county. I do not know the legal status of those apts.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

There was a story on here a while back about Arlington's proposal for ADU's which was similar.

There is a separate debate about putting two houses on one lot in Arlington. Especially on lots that are very deep but not particularly wide.

But ADU's feature prominently in DC right now becuase of the zoning overhaul. But they're still only one piece of getting more housing to DC.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

but there is no "property right" to having the government maintain regulations to artificially keep the price of housing high.

Damn right there is, it is the basis for all zoning! That is why lots are zoned (say) 1 acre, to support property rights of all residents of a neighborhood. It supports exclusivity.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

The basis for zoning is that it is cost benefit positive, which justifies the limit on property rights it imposes. When that cost benefit changes, the govt may and does reexamine the zoning. The benefits of maintaining the status quo should be considered, but they are not the only considerations.

That is why when residents of an area wish to maintain a cost benefit negative regulation, in order to artificially keep the price of housing high, they must exert substantial political activity to do so. Whereas to protect actual property rights, they have recourse to the courts.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

@AWitC: Well then I have a company that will buy up several lots in your neighborhood and put in a trash transfer station. As an industrial use, it will pay more taxes than what is paid by the existing properties, even accounting for the loss of value of the neighboring houses.

Cost benefit is positive: win for the company, win for the city. Too bad for you.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

I doubt it would be cost benefit positive to do that. The roads are not suitable, there's no rail access, land is pricey, etc. BTW cost benefit INCLUDES the impact on neighbors. Also ONE trash transfer (which can be located in a suitable zone) is usually enough. Im sure you can understand why housing is different.

Seperation of heavy industrial uses from residential has proven itself over the years and is uncontroversial, for good reasons. The needs of industry are different from those of housing, and the externalities are high.

That does not apply to ADUs as far as I can tell. ADU dwellers will have similar in a location to the dwellers who would rent to them. And they have little negative externality, as we have discussed. So far your case is that they will lower school quality, because their incomes are too low to buy/rent a SFH in the neighborhood in the current market. but given that many of the existing SFH owners probably do not have the incomes to buy in the current market either, that seems like a red herring to me.

Note again - I do no support a trash transfer station in a residential area in NW DC. Nor do I oppose relaxation of ADUs regulations in Fairfax County (in fact I support it).

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

ADU's in particular (especially what's outlined in the DC proposal) are the lowest impact to any neighborhood. In DC the only way to do it by right is not actually add anything to the house. The same amount of Sq. Footage is kept. The only differences are inside the house.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

@AWitC: I am not opposed to ADUs; I only suggest that there are reasonable arguments against them that should be addressed. Such as: over time they will add pressure on parking, schools, and crime.

No doubt, zoning is in place to support exclusivity and property rights, beyond that of mere economic arguments such as cost-benefit analysis. You do not see trash transfer stations among the mansions in the suburbs, because the property owners band together to politically defeat such proposals. Separating industrial from residential use is a derivative of that argument.

ADUs used to be prominent as alley dwellings, and they were made illegal because of the crime problems associated with them. I have not seen arguments to show that after some lengthy period, why this would not again be an issue.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

It's a little bit of a false choice to say it's between adding significant housing capacity in, say, Chevy Chase DC or Tenleytown/AU Park, versus accelerating gentrification by building in other neighborhoods. For example, there's still lots of (re)developable land, particularly out the NY Avenue corridor which wouldn't displace existing residents. There's a report today, however, about Jemal's plan to develop offices and a 1000 car garage around the old Hecht's warehouse site, which maybe, possibly could be converted to apartments years hence. Clearly he feels the housing demand isn't there yet, even for more economical apartments.

So there's plenty of real estate capacity for new, and hopefully affordable, housing. Now, if the real argument is that a lot of people would really like to find sweet, more affordable rents in Georgetown or Cleveland Park or near Friendship Heights DC and have no desire to live in still-emerging areas, I get that -- but then you should say so directly.

by Fred on Apr 16, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

I do not object to reasonable discussion of the costs of ADUs. I think we should also include, though, the benefits, and one of the principle ones is the improvement to affordability (the other of course is the cash flow to the property owners who rent them out, who are often elderly) To dismiss that benefit, with comments along the lines of "go save more money, then housing will be affordable for you" is not compelling IMO.

As for crime, I am pretty sure that the proposed new zoning code is still far more restrictive than the conditions that allowed the old alley dwellings - plus other aspects of building codes are quite different.

How, BTW, do you think alley dwellings contribute to crime? is it something in the nature of the dwelling itself?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

fred

that part of NY avenue does not have good transit currently. also the cost to build new housing will always be high - so even relatively affordable new housing will not be directly competitive with ADUs. Also there may well be people with jobs in upper NW, for which locating on NY Avenue will involve additional transportation costs.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

do you think alley dwellings contribute to crime?

No question about it. You pack people into cheaper rentals, concealed from the primary walkways and thoroughfares. They can be tenements. If i were a drug dealer, this would be a good place to carry out my operations, as the alley can be made into a defensible turf.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Now, if the real argument is that a lot of people would really like to find sweet, more affordable rents in Georgetown or Cleveland Park or near Friendship Heights DC and have no desire to live in still-emerging areas, I get that -- but then you should say so directly.

Have people been saying this indirectly somehow? I think that the idea that people should rather live further from there work, or in an area with a lot of crime, or not as nice a neighborhood, is more preposterous than the idea of someone renting out part of their house to someone else.

We don't need to question people's motives about why they want to live somewhere.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

goldfish: ADUs will require the owner of the house to still live there. A homeowner in Tenleytown, AU Park, Chevy Chase, Forest Hills, etc. is not going to rent a place to have drug dealing going on in their own backyard and not take action.

by David Alpert on Apr 16, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

@DA: how enforceable is that?

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

They cleared out a lot of alley dwellings because of lack of sanitation (pretty sure ADUs today will be required to have indoor plubming) and good old block busting as well (a lot of alley dwellers were black).

The crime came from the fact that it was the the early 1900s and the concept of a municipal police force was still being worked out in a lot of ways.

So I think that concerns about crime today are a little unfounded. Especially since the homeowner is living on the property as well.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

@A Walker in the City,who wrote about the desirable schools in Ward 3, presumably to bolster the argument about adding significant ADUs there.

But how then do you address the existing problem today that Wilson HS, Deal middle school and most of the elementary schools in upper NW are already operating way over capacity? It seems that if DC wants to set macro-housing policy, it should take account of where infrastructure like schools has significant excess capacity versus where it is currently over-stretched. For example, if zoning were to enable affordable family dwelling units where DCPS schools are so under-utilized that they are in danger of closing, then DC would begin to rebuild school age population to support these schools and create more vibrant neighborhoods.

by Fred on Apr 16, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

"You pack people into cheaper rentals, concealed from the primary walkways and thoroughfares. They can be tenements. "

so you're saying they would commit crimes WITHIN their units, where they are less visible? But the as of right ADUs are in existing buildings, so the homeowner could set up the meth lab, or Al Qaeeda safe house, in the location just as easily as a tenant could, right?

As for packing, is it the sq feet per person that makes crime more likely? Tom C calls for smaller units to address affordability - to you think there is some sq ft per person that creates crime? HOw does that relate to the number of residents allowed per the new code?

or is it that they are cheaper? IE we must keep rents high, to limit the number of poor people in a neighborhood? What does that suggest, given that you have made an analogy between a trash transfer station and ADU's?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

Any crime occuring as a result of ADU's will be minimal at best.

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

fred

personally Im not convinced that ADUs will lead to a major increase in the school population.

But then let me ask - if say a local Univ were to build a new dorm, that could lead to students leaving group houses, and more families moving in. Should DC oppose that on the basis of it straining school capacity in NW? It seems that any policy that enabled more families to live in NW, directly or indirectly would do that? Should DC prevent elderly homeowners from selling to young families?

DC should estimate, reasonably, the number of ADUs that will draw families with school age children. If thats large, they will need to look at the costs of added school transportation in determining the desirability. I am not aware that anyone has made a sound quantitative case on that. It sounds more like a fear that folks will be able to get into the best schools without buying a very expensive home, reducing the price premium on said homes.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: I do not fully understand the causes; I look to the lack of ownership, and hence long term investment.

The main difference between Tiger alley before and now is that now it is entirely lived in by owners. The problems that were there 100 years ago cannot be denied.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 12:20 pm • linkreport

"Four years ago, when I endorsed Patrick Mara, I perhaps assumed too readily that because he lives in a denser neighborhood and bicycles"

This is why it's dangerous to support candidates based on assumptions rather than on their actual stated policy positions. Granted, someone might lie about their positions to get elected, but at least you have their prior statements to hold over their head once they're elected.

Mara either has said little to nothing on key policy issues or made perplexing statements about policy (like calling paid sick leave "unsettling" - huh?!?).

Can't see why anyone other than the narrow "no new taxes" constituency would vote for Mara, in an ideal world where people vote based on issues (I can dream, no?).

by wylie coyote on Apr 16, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

"@DA: how enforceable is that? "

er the neighbors complain, and then someone checks if the people living in the main dwelling unit are the folks on the deed. Car registration, etc would also be a giveaway. Unless you are suggesting that absentee owners would not rent out the primary unit, but would leave it empty. Im not sure I understand the economic motive to rent out an ADU, but to leave the primary unit vacant. Seems it would be far more lucrative to do the opposite.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

Fred,

You seem completely out of touch with the housing market in this city. Rents near transit on available units are upwards of $2000 a month for a new one bedroom. There is a very low vacancy rate. We are literally running out of available units compared to demand. Are you arguing that people shouldnt be able to rent out existing space with limited modification or that that is somehow more expensive than creating new units? You literally don't even seem like you're trying to make cogent arguments.

Also, no one is going to make homeowners do anything with their property. So obviously if you don't want an ADU you are perfectly entitled not to have one.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

Obviously, goldfish, the only thing that has changed in 100 years is alley units...

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

It's ok to admit that alley dwellings had problems a hundred years ago.

I think its specious to claim that those same problems will arrive in DC 2013.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

"We are literally running out of available units compared to demand"

I'm kind of struggling here, but don't we have something like 20,000 apartment rental units coming in durng the next year. Even at 1000 people a month, that is well above the demand.

by charlie on Apr 16, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

"I do not fully understand the causes; I look to the lack of ownership, and hence long term investment. "

There are many areas in DC, and the region, where people rent and do not commit crimes. So I dont buy the renters = criminals argument.

and the reason matters. If the reason is something that alley dwellings had, but modern ADUs would not, then its not an argument against ADUs at all. And if its just that poor people commit crimes, then its basically saying that poor people should go somewhere else, so that crime goes somewhere else. It relocates crime, it does not lower it. Of course thats buying the argument that ADU dwellers in ward 3 would actually be poor, which I remain unconvinced of.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

@ charlie

yup, and according to delta, a RE market service, that will reduce rents by like 5%. So 1 BRs for $1900, instead of $2000. There's a lot of backlog in demand.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

Also the tiger Alley story readily admits that the problem was just with two houses and their owners. So most owners/residents in the alley were perfectly law abiding.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

how many people are there living in tightly packed roommate situations, who either want to live alone or in a less packed roommate situation? HOw many young people are living with their parents? how many couples are living in small studios? How many people (young folks, empty nesters, etc) are living in suburbs with long commutes who want to live a more efficient life in the city? Theres a lot of demand to soak up those new units as they come on line.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerintheCity,

Maybe on one of your walks, you should check out the situations in these schools. It's not a matter of 'added school transportation', it's how you find the school capacity to educate all the kids who today live in-boundaries for Murch, Lafayette, Mann, Janney, Oyster, Key, Deal, Wilson to name a few. Already, they've adding onto Deal and Janney just a few years after doubling the capacity of those schools, with no space to add after that. My point is that being accessible to Metro isn't the only factor that should drive housing and zoning policy. It's finding or planning the infrastructure, like schools, that are necessary to support it as well.

Unless I'm mistaken, and your point is that ADUs are unlikely to be for families with school kids?

by Fred on Apr 16, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Fred,

Why do you think that the best solution to ease school overcrowding is through the prohibition of housing units?

Surely this is better solved through DCPS management than the Office of Planning.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

why wouldnt it be transportation, if there is indeed excess capacity at schools in other parts of the city?

but yes, I would expect ADUs to be heavily rented by single people.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

IF the only way to address school demand in NW is with added capacity in NW, and IF ADUs are likely to draw lots families with school kids then that could be addressed by requiring property owners who wish to add an ADU to pay some money into a school infrastructure fund. In the suburbs developers often have to pay a proffer to offset the cost of additional residents on infrastructure.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

When suburbs were expanding in the fifties, developers were often required to fund and build the school infrastructure that went along with it.

That would be a good idea for DC, as well, say to require each PUD developer to pay directly into a school construction fund if the schools in the immediate area are enrolled over-capacity.

by Fred on Apr 16, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

Except if you're building a by-right ADU that doesn't need a PUD.

I'm not against the idea and it basically happens already but its a separate issue.

However, an ADU is likely to raise the assessment of the house bringing in more revenue for the school district.

Plus the extra people living there will be paying DC taxes (sales and income) as well.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

AWitC wrote "why wouldnt it be transportation, if there is indeed excess capacity at schools in other parts of the city?"

Do you really think that is a lack of school transportation that is dissuading parents in upper NW whose kids attend an overcrowded Janney or Mann from enrolling at schools with excess capacity in other parts of the city?!

by Fred on Apr 16, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Fred on Apr 16, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

Fred

Im quite aware that there are people in NW who dont want their kids attending a school with lots of poor people. Im just trying to clarify if thats your objection to ADUs - that more families in them would mean people who are currently zoned for "good schools" would themselves placed in "bad schools".

Anyway, Im still not sure ADUs would mean more enrolled students. To the extent it made it easier for elderly people to remain in their homes, and not sell to families with kids, it might actually mean lower enrollment than otherwise.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

It seems to me codifying ADUs is a solution in search of a problem. Basement rentals are not uncommon in my Northwesst neighborhood. My neighbor over the years has rented his basement apartment and the current arrangement works rather well. He gets extra income and, because the unit is not be 'official', his tenants probably have gotten a good rent deal. He's careful to rent to good tenants, who are usually quiet and courteous, to keep the neighbors sweet. He knows that his tenants can't officially get an RPP parking permit, so they don't keep cars and take the bus or metro, and so there's no real parking impact on the street. The nature of the rental seems to keep everyone's interests in balance.

by Sally on Apr 16, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

Also the tiger Alley story readily admits that the problem was just with two houses and their owners. So most owners/residents in the alley were perfectly law abiding.

If Tiger alley was an isolated case, then alley dwellings wound not have been outlawed. But that is not the case, because 100 years ago, crime problems associated with alley dwellings were widespread and well recognized.

It is important to remember that ne'er-do-wells are constrained by laws, and that the concentration of rental-based poverty in isolated places can lead to disaster. So while one or two ADUs on a particular block probably will not be a problem, six or eight of them can be a crime incubator.

Imagine setting up an illegal drug distribution. You have two of your employees rent separate ADUs on a block with many or them. The alley is a perfect place to sell the drugs, because the other residents are short-termers or students, whom are indifferent to the increase in people coming and going. With muscle and money, the owners of the offending apartments can be intimidated and/or bought off. The isolation protects against police patrols and rival gangs, and furthermore offers side opportunities such as prostitution. Lawyers can be engaged to further keep the cops away, and to defend against legal action from the neighbors. A nice and profitable little setup.

I suspect that is what Tiger Alley was all about, due to its isolation and concentration of people without neighborhood investment. Not saying this will happen with all such ADUs, of course, but it could lead to some major crime issues.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 1:39 pm • linkreport

and that the concentration of rental-based poverty in isolated places can lead to disaster.

Thank goodness that ADU's aren't going to do that in Ward 3.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

"It is important to remember that ne'er-do-wells are constrained by laws, and that the concentration of rental-based poverty "

whiskey, tango, foxtrot.

a. Seriously, what do you think a 600 sq ft ADU in ward 3 is going to rent for?

b. do you think that the owner who will LIVE there would rent it for that?

Are there other cities with similar rules on ADUs to what is proposed? Do we have stories of things like this there? From this century, not from the 1880s.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

what do you think a 600 sq ft ADU in ward 3 is going to rent for?

This is a citywide policy, and most ADUs are going to be in other wards.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

you were the first person who focused on ward 3

"You have missed the point that the opponents bring to the fore: that housing policy affects the schools. Since it is the schools that are responsible for the high property values in W3, anything that might diminish the schools there will do likewise for housing prices. Having large numbers of low-income people move in will make the schools less attractive, and lower the apparent performance. While this makes housing more affordable, it also cuts into the investment value of the property. "

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: first person who focused on ward 3

Remember that this article was about opposition to ADUs in Chevey Chase:

At a Chevy Chase Community Association meeting last week, many candidates affirmed support for affordable housing, according to a report on the Chevy Chase listserv, but then wavered or even outright opposed allowing people to rent out basements, garages, or parts of their homes to create new housing opportunities.
...but in any case, I have since pointed out that there are good reasons to oppose ADUs, such as what happened in Tiger Alley.

Nobody has put forth reasons why my concerns about parking, impact on schools, and crime are unfounded, btw.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

The crime one should be obvious because you had to make some very large assumptions about the conditions needed to run some sort of crime ring. If you have to lay out that many hypothetical steps to get there then it'll probably stay hypothetical.

Re: Schools and parking, we've been over this. If you want to fix problems in schools or on the streets then you should fix those problems directly. Claiming that ADUs or any other type development must be prevented to solve existing problems won't do it.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

This is a citywide policy, and most ADUs are going to be in other wards.

So you mean that the problems in other wards are because of reasons unrelated to these ADUs that aren't even here yet?

We agree then.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

it'll probably stay hypothetical.

Nothing hypothetical about it. It happened in Tiger alley, and that sort of thing continues to happen in blocks that are isolated. Crime is part of human nature.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

why isn't it happening in Portland, which actually has relaxed its code on ADUs?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

If you want to fix problems in schools or on the streets then you should fix those problems directly.

An increase in crime due to bad zoning will undermine these solutions. That is why they were made illegal in the first place.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

@drumz: Interestingly, if reducing housing cost is the primary objective, making zoning that increases crime and unemployment will help tremendously. But somehow I do not think that is what you are after.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

Can you try for an example from a time more recent than 120 years ago? 120 years ago women couldn't vote and you had to learn to dodge horse poop in the street and went to bed when the sun went down.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

Oh come on the kind of poor people who disrupt neighborhoods aren't going to pay a few extra hundred dollars a month to have the pleasure of doign so in Tenleytown. I find it mind boggling how afraid and out of touch people are. Do you think poor people are paying $1500 rents a month out of pocket. My friend randomly just sent me a census report on housing and DC has the second highest median rent in the nation outside of San Jose. That's as of 2011, I can only imagine it's gone up from $1350. Average per capita income is about $55k. That means that the average person in the would have to pay about 50% of their income for rent. Sure maybe only 1000 people a month are moving in, but maybe that's because the majority of the nation currently is priced out? Despite what TV tells you, the vast majority of people in the region aren't lawyers that make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. I'm pretty sure making a 5 figure salary doesn't automatically make you an awful person that is seeking the downfall of pristine neighborhoods everywhere. I feel like I'm stuck in the 60s or something here.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

That is why they were made illegal in the first place.

Meanwhile in the intervening 120 years or so a lot of changes have happened and we're not likely to see the same result based on who already lives in ADUs and similar arrangements around the city.

Plus that also assumes that tearing down the houses/making them illegal was the best solution in the first place. Which it probably wasn't.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

why isn't it happening in Portland, which actually has relaxed its code on ADUs?

Because it takes a while for these problems to occur. And given that Portland just reinstated its parking minimums, I think that city is a good example of how some trendy urban ideas can go too far, leading to backtracking.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

goldfish, please, Tiger Alley is just about as relevant today as the Titanic is on international travel.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

Meanwhile in the intervening 120 years or so a lot of changes have happened and we're not likely to see the same result based on who already lives in ADUs and similar arrangements around the city.

why not? because women can now vote?

The isolation offered in alley ADUs is akin to many examples of the concentration of poverty, and where that lead to.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

Maybe we should outlaw townhouses? I hear there were a lot of crack dens in the 80s around here.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

I'm saying that the social conditions of 120 years are probably a bigger factor in social problems in DC rather than just the type of housing it was in. Now that those social problems have been mitigated in many ways (business liscensing, modern police techniques, better standards of living, etc) we can assume that those problems won't re-occur simply because of the form of the housing.

And you're still assuming that an ADU will be going to poor people. (which ignores the fact that its the concentration of poverty that leads to crime rather than the poor themself)

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

Alan B: I am personally familiar with them. So?

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

"Because it takes a while for these problems to occur."

How long? Are things moving in that direction in Portland?

"And given that Portland just reinstated its parking minimums, I think that city is a good example of how some trendy urban ideas can go too far, leading to backtracking."

That they are backtracking on parking minimums, suggest precisely that when a problem occurs (or even seems to some to occur, which appears to be the case with parking) they are quick to go back. That they have not gone back on ADUs, therefore, suggests no problems have come up.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

The Titanic or townhouses?

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

"I feel like I'm stuck in the 60s or something here. "

I feel like I'm in SoHo of the 1980s, witnessing a piece of performance art.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

Just because someone goes back on a decision doesn't mean that's the best response either.

But I can't believe that we're discussing whether a guy turning his basement into an apartment will lead to gambling on bare knuckle boxing matches, loose women and rot-gut whiskey being made in the bathtub out of the view of the revenuers.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

drumz - not only will all the neighbors be bribed or subborned, but soon the police and the city govt will be on the take, and gangs will be fighting wars in the streets. Its happened.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

@drumz: you're still assuming that an ADU will be going to poor people. (which ignores the fact that its the concentration of poverty that leads to crime rather than the poor themself)

Never said that, and having been poor most of my life, I think you should reconsider where you think I am coming from, and what I am assuming.

The outlawing of alley dwelling ADUs to stop crime is a blunt solution to a severe problem. But sometimes zoning changes are the least painful and most effective way to solve these cancers.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

How long? Are things moving in that direction in Portland?

Decades, like 20-50 years. Alley dwellings were around in DC in the 1860s, but it took 40 years before they were outlawed.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

You seem to be arguing that crime is intrinsic to the type of housing there.

For every example of some crime being committed in or by a resident of a particular housing type I can point out far more people just living normal lives in the same type of house.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

http://smallstreets.org/action/washington-dc/

"The alley houses came under threat around the turn of the 20th century. Occupied at the time by the lower classes during a time before modern sanitation systems, many members of the upper class sought to demolish the small streets and associated housing. While some of this was due to sincere concern for the welfare of alley residents, much of the reform was infected with the racism, fear, and ignorance of the time in regards to the predominantly poor African-American families that lived in the “hidden” alleys."

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

I don't think historically alley housing was or is more prone to crime than other types of housing.

by MLD on Apr 16, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

Ive seen hundred year old alley dwellings in baltimore that did not have crime problems.

I guess you have to get over the bad period, from age 40 to about age 80?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

drumz: You seem to be arguing that crime is intrinsic to the type of housing there.

Not exactly; only that the situation suggests that may *incubate* crime -- akin to the failed public housing built in the late 50s and early 60s.

I think it may be repeating a mistake, that we are sowing the seeds of difficult problems. I am looking for solid reasons why it is not. All people have offered is "well, things have changed" but since we have always had crime and probably always will, that is not a good enough.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

The outlawing of alley dwelling ADUs to stop crime is a blunt solution to a severe problem

It might have been in times past. It most certainly would not be an issue now...severe or otherwise.

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

So let's see, you have no reasons other than conjecture and 130 year old stories as to why ADUs might maybe result in more crime, but the fact that circumstances in cities have changed drastically isn't enough to counter that? OK

by MLD on Apr 16, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

Comparing huge, isolated public housing towers with thousands of units and a dozen on a street or alley someone is beyond hyperbolic. Anyway, we aren't talking about creating public housing, these are just letting homeowners put in market rate units which will ease demand across the city.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

AWitC: some of this was due to sincere concern for the welfare of alley residents, much of the reform was infected with the racism, fear, and ignorance of the time in regards to the predominantly poor African-American families that lived in the “hidden” alleys."

Do confuse race with class. The alleys were converted to cheap housing after the migrations by former slaves to DC due to emancipation. These people were desperately poor, and alley dwellings offered a solution. But then some alleys became problems.

So people are suggesting alley dwellings, just like they did back in the 1860s, for the same reasons -- cheap housing. Why not just wait for the normal rental property pipeline to do its job and produce the needed new housing?

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

the fact that circumstances in cities have changed drastically isn't enough to counter that? OK

That is intellectually lazy. OK, what has changed?

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 3:05 pm • linkreport

To remind

these are NOT physical changes - we are not building new buildings on alleys, much less building new 40 story towers. We are making a LEGAL change to make it easier for people to rent out their existing property.

should it create gangs of NY like conditions, or a plague of snakes, or whatever, reversing the decision would be simple. Of course one couldnt just toss out existing tenants, but given that, as goldfish has said, these residents are transient, simply banning owners from taking on new tenants would shift back to the old status quo in short order.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 3:05 pm • linkreport

Not exactly; only that the situation suggests that may *incubate* crime

The situation suggests no such thing.

by Alex B. on Apr 16, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

"So people are suggesting alley dwellings, just like they did back in the 1860s, for the same reasons -- cheap housing. Why not just wait for the normal rental property pipeline to do its job and produce the needed new housing?"

the normal rental pipeline is capable of producing units that decline and become havens for poverty and crime as well. I see no particular reason for relying on it alone - aside from ADUs providing an additional source of relatively cheap housing fairly quickly - and with less environmental impact than new housing (I am told that new housing has impacts on storm water for example)they have an added benefit - they provide an income stream to elderly residents of SFH neighborhoods - and possibly intangible benefits to them as well.

OTOH if you wish to advocate for easing the new development pipeline, which would lessen the demand for ADUs, be my guest.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

Re: what's changed
I gave reasons earlier, we have sanitation, police, more regulation in places where you can go buy alcohol, standards of living are simply higher.

re: housing types
Not exactly; only that the situation suggests that may *incubate* crime -- akin to the failed public housing built in the late 50s and early 60s.

again, that's the concentration of poverty not the type of housing. You can see that in high rises, low rises, SFH neighborhoods, wherever.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

shorter goldfish

- any change could lead to something bad. Ergo, the advocates for change cannot simply show why its good, they must PROVE that any conceivable bad result will not happen.

the eternal argument of small c "conservatism" To which I respond that a negative that will take 30 years to happen, which may not happen at all, and which is a result of a policy easily reversed, is not a reasons to maintain the status quo.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

gave reasons earlier, we have sanitation, police, more regulation in places where you can go buy alcohol, standards of living are simply higher.

We also have a far wider variety of more profitable drugs, and more drug addicts, with the money to support their habits.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

We also have a far wider variety of more profitable drugs, and more drug addicts, with the money to support their habits.

And they all live in ADUs!

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

I see nothing that indicates anyone is going to put in cheap hosing. Unless you think $1000+ a month constitutes "cheap" housing. Basements in Dupont go for what $2k a month? I doubt Cap Hill will be all that much lower. All this is going to do is add housing stock to parts of mainly the middle of the city that are built out, add some income for owners, tax base for the city, and new customers for local retail. I suppose the city will have to deal with some extra tax collection and obviously there will be some new school enrollment though I really can't see it being nearly as much as with larger apartments or homes. I've never seen basement apartments that weren't being leased by single people or couples and very few have even two bedrooms in my experience. In terms of advantages, they could be great for old people if they have ground level access so no stairs are needed, young couples, older single/divorced people, etc etc. I would just encourage you guys to walk around Dupont and Adams Morgan and Mt. Pleasant and tell me what kind of nefarious activity you actually see being committed by these ADU dwellers.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Most drug dealers I've seen seem to drive around in nice cars. Sounds like they can probably afford to rent nicer apartments if its such a lucrative career.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

@ David Alpert
"Absent enough new housing, many people who want to come here will rent or buy units in gentrifying neighborhoods where prices are still lower than elsewhere."

I always enjoy your postings(agree or disagree), but this one about affordable housing is a little off. When I moved to DC 30 years ago I could only afford to live in the very iffy U street area (long before the yellow line metro, the Lincoln Theatre rehab or any significant redevelopment). I was a short walk from the open-air heroin market at the corner of 14th and V (home today to Busboys & Poets). I fixed up my uninhabited and crumbling rowhouse, helped get the drug dealing moved, and pressed to keep property tax increases from displacing older fixed-income and lower income families. What is wrong with new residents moving into Bloomingdale or by RFK stadium and doing the same thing today? Arguing that everyone should be able to afford housing in even the most desirable areas is unrealistic. I support the large number of new condos being built along 14th street, but has the addition of hundreds of new units from W to P streets pushed the condo/home prices down in the area? In the past year by property appraisals have gone up roughly 10 percent. The listed sales prices for those condos don't seem to be dropping either. (If anything the prices are going up as the neighborhood gets "hotter.") Basic economics says the only way building new units can push the overall prices substantially down is if the developers overbuild and produce a glut in the supply of condos that exceed demand. As long as demand exceeds or roughly equals supply, the prices would not drop.

by DupontDem on Apr 16, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

We also have a far wider variety of more profitable drugs, and more drug addicts, with the money to support their habits.

Yes, and most of them would be competing against each other for ADU's!! Yay!!!!!!! I saw a Cap Hill english basement (near the Cap) that would be ideal for these bottom dwellers!

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

Most drug dealers I've seen seem to drive around in nice cars.

Sorry Alan...had to ask. You actually know drug dealers? WOW! Even I don't know any of those...

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Ooops...unless you count the weed man.

*not that I inhale any foreign substances*

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

Your kidding, right? That is what this whole argument for ADUs are based on.

A homeowner could put up $20k to put in some utilities and some cheap drywall, and voila! a garage becomes income-producing property that returns $1k/month. Hard to beat that as an investment. Home Depot is full of such people.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

Try again with that last post something went wrong...

@Alan B.: I see nothing that indicates anyone is going to put in cheap hosing.

Your kidding, right? That is what this whole argument for ADUs are based on.

A homeowner could put up $20k to put in some utilities and some cheap drywall, and voila! a garage becomes income-producing property that returns $1k/month. Hard to beat that as an investment. Home Depot is full of such people.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 3:31 pm • linkreport

What is wrong with new residents moving into Bloomingdale or by RFK stadium and doing the same thing today?

There is nothing wrong with it, and by and large its happening. But its a little unfair that when an opportunity comes up to help create some housing in a neighborhood that the first response is "sorry, go to some other area and make it nice".

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

Cheap slum housing for druggies on Capitol Hill:

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/apa/3726633827.html

by oboe on Apr 16, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

No, the argument is that they are going to add to the housing supply with units that aren't out of the price range of 75% of the people, and moderately arrest rent inflation. They are still going to be some of the highest rents in the nation. There is plenty of middle ground between cheap and unaffordable...

The car thing was mostly a joke. I mean since we can tell what kind of people are going to live in ADUs I assume it's ok for me to assume all oversize SUVs with overly tinted windows are drug dealers right?

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

God forbid people be able to live somewhere in DC for $1k a month.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

(In this case "Capitol Hill" is 16th and D, NE, btw)

by oboe on Apr 16, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

The brazenness, advertising a drug dealers paradise like that right on craigslist!?

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

God forbid people be able to live somewhere in DC for $1k a month.

That was "return" from the point of view of the investor. The rent would be higher.

@oboe's Craig's Listing is an example. Basically it is cheap construction, tarted up with a nice shower.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

lol@Oboe.. Well yeah...that 1600 would be a STEAL for the local drug dealers...

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 4:00 pm • linkreport

So you mean cheap as in quality not price.

God forbid people be able to pay someone rent in order to live in a space in their home!

You can advocate for high quality ADUs but then you have to be comfortable with the existence of them.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

Hoo boy I bet the people trying to rent that $1600/mo basement are going to be mighty disappointed when the only people they can rent to are crackheads, single moms with 12 kids, and other ne'er-do-wells.

by MLD on Apr 16, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

MLD, on the plus side, that sounds like a reality TV show with a lot of potential!

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

Thanks for your reply and I completely agree with you! It is sad to see knee-jerk objections to any new development, even when it is well thought out. I just disagree with DA when he argues we can build our way to more affordable housing in the higher cost areas in the core of the city. My example was no one has blocked the building of hundreds of condos along 14th street and the large amount of new construction did not lower prices in the area.

by DupontDem on Apr 16, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

@drumz: You can advocate for high quality ADUs but then you have to be comfortable with the existence of them.

You can do better here: $775 and near the Metro.

I am beginning to think the real agenda is a way to live in the tonier parts of town without paying its high cost. ADUs won't do much for that, unfortunately.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

I don't think that was his argument per se. I think his argument was that if you want to make the city more affordable you're going to have eventually build some buildings or otherwise the city will literally run out of places to go to find cheaper housing.

And maybe new construction didn't lower prices but there a few things to consider:

A. You have to consider other factors at play, like the amount of time it takes to get a project approved and built.
B. It may not immediately lower prices but it can slow the rate of growth or help preserve rents in older buildings.
C. We now have evidence that rents are falling in DC anyway. The cause is most likely because of all the new suplpy.

http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/apartment_rents_fall_in_noma_h_street_and_upper_nw/6880

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 4:41 pm • linkreport

Dupont

actually there is evidence that the new construction is slowing the rate of rent increase in several areas, and that rents will decline by several percent in the next year or so.

The market for sales is somewhat different, as its driven by changes in interest rates and financing. During the bust when it was hard to finance condo purchases, there was something of a shortage of rental units, and most new units built were rentals, and according to many purchases were a better deal, IF you could finance. Now, with more people able to finace, it seems like there is a greater demand for condos, which in some neighborhoods is even looking like a bubble.

Ultimately we can build our way to lower prices. Maybe not as low as some people might want though.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 4:44 pm • linkreport

I am beginning to think the real agenda is a way to live in the tonier parts of town without paying its high cost. ADUs won't do much for that, unfortunately.

It is the real agenda. The explicit argument is that by allowing ADUs we allow more people to live in a neighborhood they want. Why is that bad?

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 4:46 pm • linkreport

Why in the world is "go live somewhere else" considered a valid argument?

To use the Benning Road example: what if I'd rather stay on the red line? What if I wanted to live close to my kids school? What if I wanted live closer to restaurants and retail? Why is that only reserved for people with means? Why, when the opportunity to allow more people to have a choice where they live is the first reaction to say "just deal with it?".

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

I am beginning to think the real agenda is a way to live in the tonier parts of town without paying its high cost.

Hunh? As opposed to wanting to live in tonier parts of town as well as WANTING to pay the high costs?

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

You can do better here: $775 and near the Metro.
But not an ADU - that's a building.

I am beginning to think the real agenda is a way to live in the tonier parts of town without paying its high cost. ADUs won't do much for that, unfortunately.

Then why all the concern about crime?

by MLD on Apr 16, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

we allow more people to live in a neighborhood they want. Why is that bad?

Because it is self-deception; it will not occur. Prices in the "nice" part of town are well protected and won't go down.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

goldfish, so your solution is just to gentrify the city until there is nowhere poor people can live? I guess that's one strategy. Good on you for finding the one (legit) cheap apartment on craigslist.

by Alan B. on Apr 16, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

goldfish

Ah, I was waiting for that.

"lets get the entitled young people who want a decent unit for $1200 a month to go EOTR instead. Who cares if they drive all the poor folks who already live there and pay $700 a month out of DC though. Gentrification and displacement EOTR is a small price to pay to keep things as they are in the tony areas"

That argument has been used not only against ADUs, but against new developments as well (though you now seem to support them) and also in defense of the height limit.

There are only five metro stations in DC EOTR. How many existing housing units are there within walking distance of those stations? (you could build more, but those won't be quite that cheap - and theres only so much vacant or near vacant land within walking distance of those metros, so - assuming no change to the height act - thats limited too.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

Because it is self-deception; it will not occur. Prices in the "nice" part of town are well protected and won't go down.

Ok, then why oppose ADUs? To prevent someone from fooling themself?

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

Then why all the concern about crime?

Because people *think* this policy will lower housing cost in the wealthier neighborhoods, but it will not. Regardless, the ADUs that get built in other parts of town may lead to the problems I discussed.

So actually it is lose-lose: no reduction in rents in low crime, wealthy areas, but an increase in crime in the other parts of town.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 4:53 pm • linkreport

drumz

because there will be lots of eevil ADUs in places like Lamond Riggs or Michigan Park, which will turn those areas into drug ridden slums. thats why the loudest opposition to ADUs comes from those areas, and you hardly hear a peep out of ward 3. Or something.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

"So we must keep prices high to keep the area nice. Of course if we allow these units prices will still be high (and thus preserving the neighborhood). Nevertheless, on principle we must oppose these units because people may think that they too can live in the neighborhood and we have already acheived balance and cannot trust those moving in to be the same. Besides, they're probably all drug dealers since drug dealers live in houses."

That's where I'm at right now.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 4:55 pm • linkreport

yup, I called it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 4:56 pm • linkreport

Because people *think* this policy will lower housing cost in the wealthier neighborhoods, but it will not.

So people are wrong but lets give them what they want anyway.

by drumz on Apr 16, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

If that really happens, in 20 or 30 years, DC can reverse the policy easily.

of course the economics that leaves vacant units EOTR suggests to me that making the investments to create ADUs in already inexpensive areas probably won't work out.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 5:00 pm • linkreport

Because people *think* this policy will lower housing cost in the wealthier neighborhoods, but it will not

No, that's just how you've chosen to frame the argument. I haven't read anyone argue that building ADU's will afford them the chance to snatch up that 2br in the Pallisades. What people do *think* (rightly so) is that an ADU would be cheaper for those interested in moving to certain n'hoods where they exist.

by HogWash on Apr 16, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

If that really happens, in 20 or 30 years, DC can reverse the policy easily.

...so we should move heedlessly into a policy that, in the past, has produced cancerous areas that were so bad that they were made illegal? Not smart.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 5:09 pm • linkreport

"so we should move heedlessly into a policy that, in the past, has produced cancerous areas that were so bad that they were made illegal? Not smart."

except of course the issues in the 1880s were not created by ADUs per se, but by the sanitary, police, social conditions of the 1880s, and the dwellings were banned in some part to remove poor blacks, not because of "cancerous" conditions, and we are not moving heedlessly, but after consideration, discussion, and examination of another city where its been done and has not created such conditions.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 5:13 pm • linkreport

we are not moving heedlessly, but after consideration, discussion, and examination of another city where its been done and has not created such conditions.

What city, Portland? and are we giving due consideration to the social, historical, economic, and physical differences?

No. what is happening, particularly here, is a dismissal and ridicule of my arguments. Only it is not funny, not really.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

We also have ADUs and alley dwellings today. They're not the source of today's problems.

by Drumz on Apr 16, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

I was hoping you might indicate what it is about Portland that makes such conditions impossible there, that you have forecast here.

As for discussion, its been going on for months across DC, not just in GGW. And this is hardly the first GGW discussion. As for ridicule and dismissal, I daresay you give as good as you get.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 5:25 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: frankly, I don't think enough time has past for the problems I discussed to develop in Portland. Moreover, I have never been there and do not know that city at all, and I am not in any position to pass judgement on what they have done.

by goldfish on Apr 16, 2013 5:30 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry, I get annoyed when people assert that's its good policy to keep some neighborhoods off limits and that any issue with high prices is just whining.

It's also baffling to need to continually assert that the problems of 2 centuries ago aren't the same as today and in any case today's or yesterday's problems are intrinsic to a particular type of housing that already exists in this city in great quantities.

by Drumz on Apr 16, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

Drumz

I'll accept your characterization of DA's point because I don't think he was very clear in his posting, but in the end, I think my conclusion is right. The cited report notes that rental prices are slightly down due to the very large number of new units being built. They project construction of 27,300 units over the next two years when demand is expected to be only for 11,000 units. Despite that growth in supply, the rental prices are only dipping in a few neighborhoods by 1 to 2 percent -- not a major impact on affordability, even if annualized. Also with that many new units being built, it undermines DA's argument that DC restrictions or nimbys are keeping enough buildings from being built.

by DupontDem on Apr 16, 2013 5:38 pm • linkreport

DD,

I still you're focusing to much on what's being built (as opposed to all housing) and price drops (as opposed to stabilization or a slowed increase rate).

I don't think it's possible in this environment to build enough so that you'd see a dramatic drop. However that doesn't mean we shouldn't build at all.

by Drumz on Apr 16, 2013 5:50 pm • linkreport

Drumz -

I focused on new only because the study references that, but agree you have to look at the whole picture. I think our only real disagreement is over how to characterize the current state of building in DC. With the hundreds of units along 14th, and others built in recent years along U, Pennsylvania, in SE along M Street, NoMA and along H Street NE - as well as the report on the 27,300 units being built over the next two years, it is hard to argue that we are not building as much if not more than the market is demanding (the study says we are building over double what is being demanded).

by dupontdem on Apr 16, 2013 6:31 pm • linkreport

DD

there is a backlog from failure to build enough for several years. There is considerable latent demand, as I pointed out above - the potential demand that would take new units with even a small drop in price is far larger than the growth in population from year to year.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 16, 2013 6:52 pm • linkreport

Uh, this discussion has degraded. The experience with alley dwellings, which yes, face it, are priced for the middle class, in cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, etc., is nothing like what is discussed in terms of the scourges. I say the argument has degraded rather than using other words, because the comment would be deleted.

They won't be cheap to rent. They will provide different ways and price points to live in more areas, especially in areas proximate to transit. They enable not just renters to rent for less, but they also generate add'l income for house owners who need lots of money to pay mortgages.

Since they aren't cheap to rent, they won't be rented by people with the propensity to commit crimes. And if they tried to do a drug area, because comparatively speaking there are far fewer of such in upper NW, so such activities would be easier to root out.

Another thing not discussed much are the spatial considerations. Block interiors were developed differently pre 1885. I think the changes came in part as a response to previous problems, and also because the way they did it previously didn't maximize the value of the interior real estate. The new way, basically by driving another street through instead of having an alley, or just having deep but narrow lots and an S-type alley, urban designed out most of the problems.

Plus yes, the benefits of more income, sales, and property taxes, more eyes on the street, more patrons for local businesses, etc.

Plus yes there will be sortation wrt car vs. sustainable mobility usage.

Plus yes, people if they can would rather live in an ADU in a nice area than in Deanwood...

2. In general though, the AH argument is unwinnable. You can't produce significant amounts of new affordable housing without providing free land and density bonuses and tax credits. And it won't be SFH, not in the city.

b. Plus, the only way to maintain affordability for extant housing is with land trusts and cooperatives for owned housing, and portfolio investment by nonprofits mostly (but WC Smith is an exception) for rental housing.

c. Inclusionary zoning won't produce much housing. After all, there are already close to 300,000 dwelling units in the city. It's good to do but a minimal policy and program.

d. A way to encourage affordability of extant housing is to not do property taxation at current value. Over time, property tax escalation in strong markets becomes a significant burden.

by Richard Layman on Apr 16, 2013 9:53 pm • linkreport

My family is basically sick of the affordable housing politics and stat. talk amongst the people in this city who CAN afford housing....None of the candidates are in touch with the poorest people who are the most touched by the games being played in this city....there is one, a write in candidate Charles Crews, who was just last month a resident at the DC General Shelter for homeless families. Of course he has not recieved much attention from the media, but the people who cant afford to live in this city, they know him well....hes got our vote.

by Michelle on Apr 16, 2013 10:19 pm • linkreport

Well, housing the extremely impoverished is a different issue from "affordable housing." It's a different but important element of housing policy more generally.

And housing the persistent homeless is a different issue from housing the extremely impoverished.

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 8:51 am • linkreport

@RL: Block interiors were developed differently pre 1885. I think the changes came in part as a response to previous problems, and also because the way they did it previously didn't maximize the value of the interior real estate.

Not entirely following you here. What has changed with the design? And considering that many? most? of blocks in DC were developed in the 1800s, particularly in the L'Enfant part of town were the demand is, then your ditto of "things have changed" is incorrect, because those blocks are mostly the same.

It is the less tony parts of town is were the crime problems will develop associated with the alley dwellings. Rents there are already lower, and there still are many places to find hookers and buy narcotics.

by goldfish on Apr 17, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

@RichardLayman; "portfolio investment by nonprofits mostly (but WC Smith is an exception) for rental housing."

can you expand on that a bit?

also, you've made the point before (in reference to the finger popup) that it is individual developers that are some of the worst offenders. I'm not sure how that isn't going to be an issue here as well.

by charlie on Apr 17, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

I think everyone is hung up that prices are only dropping 1-2% y/y. This is actually a 5% drop, as inflation would dictate a 3% rise just to keep pace, so a 2% drop is actually a 5% drop. Put another way, a married couple in a makes 5k/month takehome. They are currently spending 48% on housing, living in a 1BR for $2,400/month. They have 52% ($2,600) leftover monthly. Give them inflation raises for 2 years, and a yearly 2% drop in rent, and they are now making $5,305 take home, and paying $2,305, or 43.4% of their income, and have $3,000 leftover. This is a 15.3% increase in cash leftover after rent, so I would say they are substantially better off than they were before.

by Kyle-W on Apr 17, 2013 9:53 am • linkreport

"Give them inflation raises for 2 years,"

"http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/01/01/house-pay-freeze-vote-is-for-political-cover-dems-say/"

"The GOP-backed bill introduced late Monday would freeze the salaries of lawmakers and the nation’s 2 million federal employees for the remainder of fiscal 2013. Currently, federal worker salaries are frozen through the end of a short-term spending agreement that expires in March. As part of efforts to curtail the deficit, federal employees have not seen a cost of living increase in their paychecks in more than three years."

by charlie on Apr 17, 2013 10:02 am • linkreport

goldfish and charlie -- the old way that interior block housing was developed was in a big block of housing--because the way that blocks were developed then there was a big box so to speak in the middle of the block. Not unlike a housing project, just with individual buildings.

Starting around 1885 when streets like Wylie St. NE and Linden St. NE were developed, instead they just dropped in little one block streets to break up the bigger block into two smaller blocks, sacrificing the back yards of all the properties.

There are many examples of this in the H St. neighborhood, especially between 6th and 7th St. NE, and as goldfish pointed out earlier in a different context, some of those streets became very defensible and useful to drug dealers, including Rayful Edmond. (The one way street helps reduce traffic flow and allows for blockage. It's why for years I recommended that G and I Streets NE be converted back to two-way).

Also lots of examples in my neighborhood now and in fact one of those streets, Somerset Place NW, has its crime issues...

The other way was to just make deep lots so that there wasn't a block of land in the middle of the block owned by others, with an S configuration from the alley. (That's how my block is.)

2. ADUs won't be contiguous, at least in R1-R3 zones, they would be maybe in R4 and R5.

And they won't have common ownership or management (unless I introduce my system...) but even with common management (not ownership), not every lot will have an ADU so it won't be contiguous.

3. Plus the prices etc. are much different today. In the R1-R3 zones, you won't be able to do the $20,000 rehab that people mentioned above. Most garages don't have electricity and water connections. Those will have to be installed from the front of the property. For our lot it means making a trench as much as 90 feet long, and stringing electric line too (or just making it underground, which will still require that it be connected to the electricity grid).

4. So it's not going to be rented cheaply.

5. Plus since the housing will be owned by people still living on their property, I don't see that it will be in owners interest to run the ADU in ways that are deleterious to the neighborhood.

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

portfolio investment -- In our area, Community Preservation and Dev. Corp. (in the public-affordable housing world, preservation means keeping affordable housing, not historic preservation), Jubilee Housing, and the govt. related Arlington Housing Corp. and Montgomery Housing Partnership are examples of nonprofits holding properties, doing mixed rate housing, etc., and keeping prices lower, and buying properties instead of letting them go to market rate. There are others I don't know them all.

2. WC Smith is the only for profit I know that also does this. I imagine the prices are higher compared to the nonprofits. They do a lot of tax credit funded projects and they have the advantage of operating in a submarket (East of the River) where prices are still comparatively lower.

I need to sit down with them (although I don't know how great I am at financial analysis) to figure out all the ins and outs. Basically buying properties really cheaply + tax credits is how they do it. (FWIW, Related Companies makes a lot of money off subsidized housing too.)

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

"5. Plus since the housing will be owned by people still living on their property, I don't see that it will be in owners interest to run the ADU in ways that are deleterious to the neighborhood."

Agreed, slighly different incentive structure but not much of a protection.

Bring back rooming houses!

by charlie on Apr 17, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

WRT how to deal with crappy developers, you're right, it's an issue. One way would be to create a pattern book approach.

I don't really want to expound too much on my biz. idea. Maybe we can go into biz. together. Lotsa work for lawyers in RE matters as you know.

Even with my proposed system, you have to have financing, and you have to get lots of property owners to agree to participate.

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

dif. dev. type, similar concept:

http://www.pocket-neighborhoods.net/blog/author/ross/

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

In a zoning forum last summer in W4 people were complaining about big houses being used as de facto rooming houses, which is illegal.

I said the problem is that the buildings are really big and it's impractical for them to be used as SFH. (The same thing happens with big houses in neighborhoods near universities...)

So make rooming houses legal, and regulate and inspect them. That way it would work for everyone.

That was a counter intuitive approach to the people in the audience.

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

Not in DC but in smaller communities like Hyattsville MD and Royal Oak Michigan the municipalities have fierce "regimes" of rental property licensing and inspection.

DC isn't good at doing something like that, but it is possible.

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

Phasing out over a few years, the draconian Soviet-era rent control laws would be a big boost. Now there is a strong incentive to construct condos rather than own or operate apartments, unless the apartments are high-rent.
Loosen this up and lower-end apts will be built with private money, not just these city-funded scams that result in a hole in the ground and a few cinder blocks, and well-connected operatives lining their pockets.

by DesertRat on Apr 17, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

with an end to rent control, the incentive would be to build more higher priced units, not fewer. The for profit market is always going to focus on building the housing with the best financial return.

by Richard Layman on Apr 17, 2013 1:48 pm • linkreport

Ending rent control would be a collosal mistake. All of a sudden, landlords would be able to essentially evict long time tenants merely by doubling their rent. The social fallout would be devastating for large chunks of the city. Given that most new construction isn't even subject to rent control, I'm confused how that would help anyone.

by Alan B. on Apr 17, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

@DesertRat

Anything built after 1974? in DC is not subject to rent control so I don't see how that is an incentive to not build rental units.

by MLD on Apr 17, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

I'm talking about rehabilitation of existing housing stock, which is mostly pre-1974 and is subject to rent control.
The high-end apartments don't always make the best investment returns; lots of landlords make lots of money off stable tenants on Section 8. High-end apartments are more subject to the latest trends and high turnover from high-maintenance, mobile yuppies.
I said phase out, not immediate end, of rent control, in order to avoid immediately booting out poor, long time tenants paying way below market rents. And besides, not all the long-time tenants are poor; some are well-off but abusing the rent control system to mooch cheap rents, especially in Northwest.
And then there's selling rental property. The legal extortion schemes tenants can use against landlords to demand payoffs or else endlessly delay a sale, claiming they want to buy the building when they have no intention of doing so. Yeah, Marx and Lenin would love this system.

by DesertRat on Apr 18, 2013 8:53 am • linkreport

If more new housing makes housing more affordable, then why do we have both more housing than five years ago AND higher housing costs?

Affordable housing is not what is intended by these new regs, and this is why people oppose them.

by M. Hughes on Apr 20, 2013 6:15 am • linkreport

Think of it like bailing out a boat during a rain storm. If you bail slower than it rains the boat still gets more and more swamped. But that doesn't mean you should stop bailing.

Building housing is like bailing out the boat. And it's raining faster than we can bail. But that doesn't mean bailing isn't working.

by David C on Apr 20, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

Well put. Look at the population growth in the region over the last 30 years. Then look at the projected population growth. Couple that with the increased preference for urban living and you've got huge upward pressure on close-in housing prices. Increasing the housing supply is a way of slowing the rate of growth. Affordable housing programs are a way of explicitly setting aside units for different income levels. Both are necessary.

by oboe on Apr 20, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

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