Jumpstarting the market for accessory dwelling units

How did Portland, Oregon, go from permitting two accessory dwelling units (ADUs) per month in 2009 to almost two per day in 2016?  Now, more than one of every 10 housing units built in Portland is an ADU.   ADU permitting explodes: Permits as a share of all residential permits. Compared to other housing types, ADUs, or separate small dwellings…

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Does transit investment displace households and lead to more driving? Yes and no

The passage of Senate Bill 375 in 2008 ushered in a new era of regional sustainability planning in California. Now, regions must coordinate their transportation planning and investment with land use strategies that will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But what if the hundreds of new fixed-rail stations recently built or planned for California’s major metros, along with related “transit-oriented development,” inadvertently displace…

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California’s tax code impedes its progress on climate change

The California Legislature is renowned for its courage in adopting bold climate and clean-energy initiatives that influence environmental policy around the globe. But it has hesitated to reform the state’s tax code, costing the state an opportunity to better support its climate goals. Current tax policies encourage sprawl, increasing vehicle miles driven and threatening the goals to reduce greenhouse gas…

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A multi-dimensional approach to affordable housing policy: Learning from climate change policy

We are not building enough of the the so-called Missing Middle in housing types, like these fourplexes in Berkeley. A consensus is emerging that we have to do everything in our power to slow the course of global warming. The list of tools includes long-term measures such as greater energy efficiencies in buildings, industry, appliances; carbon cap-and-trade systems and taxes; new standards for…

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Mission Accomplished? Revisiting the Solutions

Last week, San Francisco voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have halted market-rate development in the Mission District. The proposed moratorium highlighted schisms in the community around the best way to slow the displacement that has made the Mission the gentrification poster child of the Bay Area. One side of the debate reflects traditional economic theory:  increasing housing supply should…

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The Blocked Market for Density and Affordable Housing

Around the globe, many cities are experiencing a housing affordability crisis. There are few places this crisis is more pronounced than San Francisco and Los Angeles. California’s strict land use regulations hinder us from producing enough housing, particularly infill development, or new buildings on vacant or underutilized land in the urban core. Yet, with 200,000 units in the pipeline, the…

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Confronting suburban poverty – or celebrating suburban resilience?

Suburban poverty is in the headlines again these weeks after the publication of Brookings researchers Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube’s new book,Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, which augments previous empirical work with fascinating case studies. But with the suburban poverty rates hovering around 11 percent, relative to 21 percent in cities, the question arises: is it suburban poverty or resilience that…

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Redevelopment is dead, long live revitalization!

Following Governor Brown’s recommendation, the Legislature’s joint legislative committee has voted to eliminate redevelopment in California.  Without redevelopment, planners lose a key tool to revitalize cities by targeting investment to disadvantaged neighborhoods, creating jobs and building affordable housing.  Yet, eliminating the policy also creates an opportunity for California to think much bigger about how to revitalize our cities. Redevelopment is…

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