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White House Recommends Changes in Zoning Laws to Spur Economic Growth

Zoning Laws

Digested from “Obama takes on zoning laws in bid to build more housing, spur growth” in Politico (9/26/16) by Woellert, Lorraine

The Obama administration has released a Housing Development Toolkit to encourage cities and states to update their housing development policies to meet the increasing need for affordable housing in the country’s job centers.

The toolkit has no force of law behind it, but is an attempt by the White House to encourage states and local communities to change zoning and land-use laws and regulations that purposefully slow development of additional housing—particularly affordable housing—that could help spur economic growth.

“We thank the President for placing a national focus on a critical issue by encouraging city and county governments to overhaul their housing policies and zoning regulations,” says a statement from the National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council on the release of the toolkit. “In doing so, the Administration recognizes the importance of multifamily housing in helping to solve the affordable housing crisis.”

The toolkit highlights 10 positive actions that states and municipalities across the country have taken to increase housing development, including establishing by-right development, streamlining or shortening permitting processes and timelines, eliminating off-street parking requirements, establishing density bonuses, and enacting high-density and multifamily zoning.

This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has sought to encourage more affordable housing development: The president’s 2017 budget request includes “$300 million in grants to help mayors update zoning rules, and the Department of Transportation has begun weighing plans for housing growth and affordability before approving funding for certain transit projects,” according to Politico.

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