The Impact of Regulation? Almost Half Your Home Price

A recent study suggested that nearly half of the cost of a home in the Seattle area is due to land-use regulations. The study, by University of Washington Economics professor Theo Eicher, was highlighted in a recent article in the Seattle Times.

Professor Eicher’s research shows that the median inflation-adjusted price of a Seattle house is now $447,800. He claims that “fully $200,000 of that increase was the result of land-use regulations”¦twice the financial impact that regulation has had on other major U.S. cities.”

Eicher attributes the doubling of homes prices in Seattle to:

“¢ the state’s Growth Management Act which restricts available land and creates artificial density;
“¢ long building permit approval times;
“¢ building and permit fees;
“¢ and municipal land-use restrictions.

According to the Times, the rules and fees mean the median family in King County has just 37 percent of the financial wherewithal to buy the median-priced single-family house ($477,000). Five years earlier, when King County’s median-priced house cost $282,500, median-income, first-time buyers possessed 72 percent of the income needed.

The effect in the Portland Metro Area is basically the same. Most of the families in Oregon can no longer afford the median-priced home.

This leads to what some call a lack of “affordable housing.” But the same people who pushed the policies that led to the affordable housing problem in the first place now want taxes, fees and government subsidies to address the problem they refuse to take responsibility for creating.

The buzzword around Oregon 10 years ago was “livability.” That has been replaced with “sustainability.” Neither word describes Portland’s housing market very well.


Matt Wingard is Director of the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market think tank.

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  • John Fairplay

    What has happened with housing is almost a “perfect storm” of one of the things liberals are trying to accomplish. You will find that most of their ideas cause a larger number of people to need government services – on which they then need to raise and spend more tax money. The promulgate policies which appear to solve one problem – but create one o more problems elsewhere. There are literally millions of examples – big and small – if one looks closely. Almost no decision is free of this – take Portland’s decision to “legalize” skateboarding in the City. Guess what? The now-legal skateboarders did what skateboarders do and damaged various kinds of public property causing the City to – ta daaaaaa – spend more taxpayer money fixing the damage. They knew the result before making the decision.

  • Billy

    And justy think, Vera Katz /Portland banned snout houses because they fel they were ugly and they feel they can make people more neighborly by advoacting front porches instead.
    There’s no getting around it. These people are just plane dumm.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    So true, but remember, when it comes to the left, intentions count, not results. Likewise, intentions can never be questioned. Don’t you dare say they like the side benefit of people then needing more government help. Oddly, this applies only to them, not to others, Iraq being the perfect example. Everyone voted for it, they sure seemed to like Bush’s intentions, look at how much slack they cut him on that, about 30 seconds.

    “Sustainability” replaced “Livability”, the overriding policy -> Asininity

  • dean

    I don’t know if you all read the entire article, but it is worthwhile. It looks like a credible study, though from past experience it is very very difficult to separate out all the pieces that drive real estate inflation.

    Nevertheless, take the results at face value. They suggest (and the author explicitly says) that land use regulations that lead to higher costs exist because communities want to conserve things they care about: open land, neighborhood character, etc. He constrasts Seattle with Houston and Atlanta, which have much more ex-urban growth (sprawl) in part because people in those communities apparently do not value conservation as highly as we do on the left coast.

    Some of the costs, like systems development charges, or impact fees, building permit fees, and planning fees are there to prevent developers of new projects from shifting costs to everyone else. Those seem to me to be a conservative (not liberal) program, because they help keep general taxes down and are essentially user fees, like toll roads.

    Land use restrictions and design review add costs, but they also help preserve existing value. In other words, by preventing someone from building an ugly project, they prevent a negative impact on their home values.

    The basic finding, that communities should be more aware of the cost impacts their regulations have, is a good one. More information should always lead to better policy decisions, including loosening some regulations if these are too costly, or lowering fees if they are not well justified.

    But the study also suggests that conservatives in this region do have a choice. If you don’t like it in the over regulated, over priced west coast, you can join the freeway traffic in Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, and other places. But if you prefer vibrant cities, les sprawl and a higher level of land conservation, be prepared to pay something for the privledge of enjoying all this.

    This is not a “liberal” or “conservative” issue by the way. Lake Oswego, hardly a bastion of liberalism, probably has the tightest land use regulations around, including bans on tree cutting. They do add cost, but they also conserve value.

    • Chris McMullen

      Dean, Webster’s defines that nauseatingly over-used term “vibrant” as; “spirited” or “full of life.”

      What makes Portland more “full of life” than Houston or Atlanta? Not including the fact you’re comparing a small city to two of the most populous in the nation.

    • Steve Plunk

      What this study does is expose the costs so we can all make a choice of what “open space” or “character” we want. I use quotation marks since these things are often different to different people.

      The problem in the past is that planners hid the costs or failed to mention them in order to get support for their Utopian schemes. By showing us exactly what these planning rules and regulations cost us and our children the study allows us to make informed decisions rather than relying on others. Others, who I might add, have different interests than our own.

      We need further studies to debunk the myths surrounding impact fees. Modern America worked fine for years without such fees. Cities built infrastructure and collected taxes after residents moved in. These fees only surfaced when local taxing jurisdictions found themselves unable to convince patrons to support higher taxes. Since those who haven’t yet moved here or are too young to vote couldn’t raise objections the fees were embraced by those who would not have to pay them.

      This is very much a “liberal” versus “conservative” issue. Liberals see this as an urban environmental movement while conservatives see it as that and a taking of property rights. Taking a man’s property rights is no less a taking of his liberty than taking his free speech rights.

      As for paying for these privileges I see the ones paying and the ones enjoying as not necessarily the same people. The law is simply extorting from some for the benefit of others.

      • David from Eugene

        Steve P.

        I question your conclusion that America worked fine without Impact Fees. I think that the tax payers at the time did not realize that the pass bond measures they were willing to approve to expand systems were in fact a subsidy for the developers. These fees surfaced when it was clear that the tax payers were no longer willing to pay higher taxes to subsidize development. The reality is that it costs money to provide infrastructure needed to support new development. Somebody has to pay for it. You may want to continue subsidizing development, I do not.

        Systems Development Charges (AKA Impact Fees) are not extortion but rather a way to have the people putting a demand on a systems capacity pay for that capacity.

  • Bob T

    Whaty a joke you are dean.

    “Some of the costs, like systems development charges, or impact fees, building permit fees, and planning fees are there to prevent developers of new projects from shifting costs to everyone else.”

    Never mind the buyers end up paying these fees while at the same time shifting the costs to fund the Billions for smart growth PlannerWorld to everyone else.

    Your thesis seems to be that because it can be pitched as an act of “caring” the enormous added cost for housing from regulation etc is real?
    Do you honestly think, or feel, Beaverton, Gresham and many similar places in Portland are more vibrant “cities than all of Houston, Phoenix, and Atlanta?
    Or are you simply cherry picking and comparing the Pearl to them?
    The bulk of our region is no different than most of clark county but they don’t have to fund your costly fantasies.
    Most of Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix is no different either.

    You’re on this ludicrous bandwagon that hold up some intrinsic sense that the Beaverton Round and other flops make out region better than others.
    You further fantasize by pretending we aren’t seeing any ugly projects around here. What a crock that is. They’re everywhere.
    High density small lot and row housing crammed into neighborhods and you don’t call them ugly?

    • dean

      Bob…I’ll gladly accept the personal insults, which I always take as a sign that my arguments must be better than you and yours.

      For the record…I have never endorsed “The Round.” I don’t know much about it, don’t care much about it, and I don’t cite it as an example of anything.

      Yes…builders pass along impact, permit, and hookup fees to their customers to the extent they can. So what? It is their customers. i.e. those moving here and buying new homes who create the need for improved transportation, new parks, new schools, more stormwater and sewage to manage, and so forth. If builder fees are driving the cost of housing too high, they can build smaller houses to bring costs back down. Why have average house sizes nearly doubled over the past 30 years,even as lots have shrunk? Could that have something to do with affordability? And ugliness?

      Did I say Beaverton etc…are more vibrant than “all of Houston etc..”? Did I even mention the Pearl? The Portland area has places where good planning and/or the market have succeeded and places where these have failed. Atlanta and Houston also probably have places where planning or “the market” have been successful and where they have failed. Overall, on balance, and including the climate, I’ll take Portland.

      If I had a nickel for every time someone of you told me I should move to France if I like their health care system better, I might have enough by now to actually move there. If you like Houston better, I’m saying what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Stop complaining about Portland and move to beautiful, light rail free Houston or Atlanta and live out your free market suburban sprawl dream. Then report back from the front.

      I was not pretending anything. The Portland area lacks the widespread design review that the researcher described as common in Seattle neighborhoods. This is especially true in our suburbs. So to the extent we see ugly getting built, that is the free market at work, not the fault of over regulation. Quite the opposite. (The Pearl by the way, does have design review, and as far as I can tell it is mostly working).

      Some higher density is ugly. Some looks quite good. The same can be said for low density Bob. Have you ever been to the Errol Heights neighborhood? Very low density. Not a pretty sight.

      • Bad Boy Brown

        Sorry to tell you Dean – but Atlanta has a far better rail system (called MARTA) than Portland ever will. And it’s policed much better as well!

  • Friends of Meatpuppet

    It is a symptom of the larger issue effecting everybody. That is Eco mania, Eco terrorism. It has infiltrated every form of life and government. It is costing us billions thanks to Al Gore. We need to stop it before it ruins us all. A great example is the dam breaching, timber industry decimation, government regulations on or fuel, life it’s self is in the balance. Put them all in straight jackets and stop the madness.

    • dean

      Response to Chris…I use the term “vibrant” to describe Portland’s “street,” or more appropriately “sidewalk” life. To tell the truth I have not been to Houston or Atlanta in years, so I’m going on hazy memory plus what I read about the direction these metro areas have gone in books and articles.

      Portland is well known nationally as a more pedestrian oriented city than most US cities, and my own extensive travels confirm that is the case. For Portland’s suburbs this is certainly much less so, except for pockets here and there, like downtown Lake Oswego and the “faux” Bridgeport Village.

      As for size, I don’t think that matters as much as density, mixed land use, and favoring pedestrian amenities over car convenience. Downtown McMinnville adn Ashland also have “vibrant” main streets, as in “full of life.”

      • dean

        Steve Plunk…the creation of local impact fees on developers is usually traced to the effects of Prop 13 in California that limited property taxes, and the legacy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations, which both cut back on federal subsidies for local infrastructure.

        The Homebuilders lobby has well paid staff and consultants who challenge, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, the impact fees that local governments charge them. These can’t be arbitrary, and have to be well grounded in predictable costs generated by new development.

        We don’t need “further studies to debunk mtyhs…” We need objective studies to get at the truth. There is a difference.

        There are many conservatives in my community who support good planning and appropriate impact fees on new development. Allowing developers to pass their impacts on to existing homeowners and taxpayers is hardly rooted in a conservative philosophy of government, unless I missed something in PolySci.

        • Steve Plunk

          Dean

          I would agree we need objective studies to get at the truth just as this study has done. I would also say debunking myths is getting at the truth.

          I’ve been involved in local planning for a number of years and can tell you the conservatives who support the present system are the ones who benefit from it. This form of rent seeking is nothing to be proud of and undermines true conservative principles.

          Prop. 13 has nothing to do with Oregon but Measure 5 does. In an attempt to impose fiscal discipline the voters of Oregon limited property taxes. Rather than accept the will of the voters governments have instead looked for ways around those limits. Impact fees and use fees have been their solutions. Both are morally flawed in their present form.

          Impact fees impose the burden of paying for services on those who cannot have a say in the process, those who have yet to move here and the generations moving into the home buying market. It’s shameful we burden those with “buy in” costs just to be a part of society.

          User fees are a lie. In my case I pay for storm drain service when I have no storm drain infrastructure. When asked why I’m forced to pay a “user” fee for something I can’t use the reply was because they can charge me by law. Explain the moral basis for that.

          Rather than argue both these fees in an intellectually honest manner the politicians prefer to ignore the issue and keep fees low enough to not cause too much trouble. Taxing a narrow segment of the population may be easy but it is a soft corruption.

          You will often find the calculations of costs for these fees to be nothing more than the amounts needed to fill the budget holes for a few years. You will also find much of the fees spent in ways not linked to the actual impacts.

          I always think of the electric company, gas company and even cable company when thinking of impact fees. They don’t charge them yet they provide infrastructure. It’s only the governmental agencies that use this crutch.

          • dean

            Steve…private utilities have hookup fees, And they amortize their larger capital costs into their rate structure. We don’t do that with most public utilities, except water and sewer.

            A community that is not growing presumably has an infrastructure that is adequate for the size of the population (paid for in part by past Federal and state grants probably), and only has to pay maintenance costs. Add growth and you add the need for new capital investment: police stations, police cars, fire stations, fire trucks, parks, widened roads, extra water and sewer capacity, jail beds, and so forth. With our property tax limitation (Measures 5 and 47) we don’t even have adequate money coming in for maintenance of the existing system, let alone new capital costs.

            Prop 13 had a lot to do with Oregon. It set the stage for our own measures, and put us down the same underfunded local government and school path. We just did it a bit later. California schools went from #1 in the nation to #48 or so in the 20 years after Prop 13. We are declining at about the same rate I think.

            You say those who pay impact fees don’t have a say in the process. Sure they do. They have a say as a consumer. If they buy an existing house they do not pay impact fees. If they buy a new house they pay. The buy in costs are thus completely voluntary.

            I don’t know your particular stormwater situation. But any house and driveway generates stormwater runoff unless that water is directed into the ground. And the ground in question has to be porous enough to allow infiltration at the rate of runnoff.

            I don’t agree that user and impact fees are “rent seeking.” Quite the opposite. If one can build new homes, sell them at a profit, and pass the growth costs onto the community, THAT is rent seeking.

          • Steve Plunk

            Dean,

            I must respectfully say you are in error on a number of counts.

            Utilities do not charge hook up fees in new housing developments. The developer installs some of the infrastructure but capacity increase costs are spread over all ratepayers.

            Impact fees have an effect on all home prices not just new ones. That creates a windfall for current home owners and does not give the consumer any say in the process. Sure, they could continue to rent but why have a system that denies young Oregonians a piece of the American dream and the financial security that comes with it?

            Your argument about storm water is off point. Jurisdictions commonly charge for services they do not provide. That makes it a tax not a fee. The cities are just trying to circumvent the will of the voters manifested in measure 5.

            It seems you understand the concept of rent seeking in economic terms. Simply put it is the use of government protections to maintain a market share or economic advantage over new or current competitors. Not all do it but the conservatives who support restrictive planning can generally be put int that group. They have entrenched interests that government protects through regulation. Rent seeking.

            According to my sources your claim of California’s 48th rank in education is false. No nice way to put it, wrong.

            The failure to maintain current infrastructure and the inability to expand can be blamed on public employee unions demanding more and requiring less of it’s members. Blame also rests with the growing inefficiencies of government and the move toward provide too many services rather than concentrate on the traditional responsibilities of municipal government.

      • Chris McMullen

        Well hell Dean, everyone knows people aren’t allowed in Atlanta or Houston. If you want to walk there, you’re forced into a car at the point of a gun by the Auto-Nazis.

        There are beautiful suburban neighborhoods in both Atlanta and Houston where children play in cul-de-sacs and people are able to stroll around their neighborhood — free from the sterile crap found in the Pearl District or the scumbags on Hawthorne. Your pretence that Portland is more “vibrant” is totally subjective. That term is nothing but New Urbanist tripe.

        Funny how ‘vibrant’ places like the Pearl and SoWhat have to bribe developers to build there. Gee Dean, sounds like your pedestrian friendly utopias are nothing but economic black holes.

        • dean

          Chris…”scumbags on Hawthorne Street?” That’s a bit strong don’t you think? All the god people live on culde sacs while only “scumbags” live in the city?

          Well, as a former Hawthorne street scumbag, and a present resident of ex-urbia, I confuse your stereotype you have to admit.

          You might surprise yourself by checking out what Houston is presently doing, which is building lght rail and reconfiguing their main corridors to be “transit oriented” and “pedestrian friendly.” Sounds like they saw something in Portland they liked. And all this without the bother of zoning laws.

          • Chris McMullen

            Yeah Dean; scumbags (BTW, I used to live there, too. I got tired of my car getting broken into and having bums camping in my backyard, so I moved). I’ll guarantee there’s more people with criminal records and substance abuse problems on Hawthorne than those living on cul-de-sacs in the ‘burbs.

            And why are you avoiding the “vibrant” city subsidies? If density and new urbanism are so desirable, why do we have to lose massive amounts of tax dollars on these projects.

            The Pearl is upside down, ie it has cost more tax dollars than it has generated. And SoWa is a complete scam. Why don’t you address the massive amounts of OUR tax dollars lost on these boondoggles?

  • lw

    Dean; since you seem to know everything about fees then why are SoWhat’s uninitiated, identified transportation projects underfunded by over $210M: South Portal, $50M; I-5 Flyover Ramp, $60M; SW Moody relocation, $40M; Central Portal/Sheridan St., $25M; North Portal, $35M??
    You claim that fees “are there to prevent developers of new developments from shifting costs to everyone else”. The fees collected from SoWhat developers are just a drop in the bucket to help pay for the remaining $210M bill. This is just one example of where your knowledge doesn’t match reality.

  • dean

    lw…I only pretend to know what I think I know, and I know nothing nor pretend to know about the projects you cite. Impact fees in general pay a calculated “share” on transportation related capital costs, so perhaps the calculation was only a “drop in the bucket.”. The “underfunded” portion of the costs in the projects you list may be due to the inflation challenged gas tax chasing a longer list of projects.

    In other words, say transportation officials decide we need a new freeway. And they assess a portion of the estimated costs to each new development within the area that will be served by that freeway. That would only come to a part of the overall cost. Capiche?

  • lw

    Dean, Every project that was listed except for the Central Portal/Sheridan were listed projects before SoWhat Agreements were adopted by CoP. Even that was listed but not as a Portal. The transportation projects were known, the costs estimated, and your last paragraph makes no sense.

    Your assertion that it ” may be due to the inflation challenged gas tax” is just a mesh of words. I think you do know about SoWhat because as elsewhere you have commented with you knowledge about SoWhat and the Pearl several times.

    • dean

      lw…I have commented on the Pearl more than once (in sum, I like it,) but I don’t think I have ever comented on “SoWhat,” and honestly don’t even know what it is an acronym for. Something about South Washington County Transportation maybe?

      I was striving to make the first sentence make no sense, not the last paragraph.

      OK…I’ll try only this once to explain myself better. The state gas tax has not been raised since 1993 or 94. Yet maintenance and construction costs have inflated every year since then. Plus we have had several hundred thousand more people squeezing onto the infriastructure the previous generation built when Federal and State funds were higher proportionally than today. That makes for a fixed dollar amount chasing an increasing demand. Which spells eventual bridge collapse and gridlock.

      We thus have many listed, unbuilt projects all across the region and state that public officials are trying to figure out how to fund. To the extent development impact fees are assessed to help with the backlog, I’m okay with that. You are not?

  • David from Eugene

    First, unless you think it is acceptable for your next door neighbor to construct a 12 story building right on the lot line, open a feed lot or strip club, you support some restriction on a properly owners ability to use his land. Drafting, enforcing and complying with these restriction costs money. Does it not make sense to have the developer bear these costs rather then the tax payer?

    Second, unless you think developers should be routinely given a substantial governmental subsidy for every building they construct you should support systems development charges.

    Third, is the root of our affordable housing problem that houses cost too much or that incomes are too low?

    Lastly, it is more geometry then regulation that limits the availability of land close to the center of town. Anyway you cut it there are never more than 3.14 square miles within one mile of any given point. The more people who want to live in that 3.14 square miles the more the land costs and the higher the density.

  • chris k

    Hey I live in houston do not drive either walk are take the bus everywhere. There are very walkible areas in Houston and it is getting better. Alot of the sprawl in houston was caused by some stupid land use regulation that ristricted single home density. Houston is getting alot denser and it is doing it while being affordable. Since 1998 when the got rid of the denisty rule there has been a boom in dense development. There are 5 or 6 mixed use development of over 15 acres all including several highrises that will be complete by 2012. This is along with boom in smaller dense developments. The thing when people visit houston alot of them go from the airports to downtown or uptown. So they do not see the whole urban core they see downtown which is on the eastern edge of the culutre core of the city. And downtown is mainly a place people go to work. During work hours there is a nice walkible culture downtown it is just not like traditional city’s. Alot of people use the 6.5 miles of tunnuls which has plenty of shops and eateries. So houston’s downtown bar and cultureal scene does not extend much further than the theater district. Houston countures that with alot of dense walkable areas between downtown and uptown. Like montrose, parts of midtown, the heights, rice village, rice millatery. upper kirby, and the greenway. I also do not think the government should stop projects becuase some people think it is ugly. Who is to decide what is ugly or not. I kind of like the diversty of the developments and how there are very few place’s in the loop that everything looks the same. In other words houston is getting dense without planning and it cheap housing brings alot of people from around the world. So i think the different cultures in houston make it more vibrent then the homogeneous culture of portland. Bayou city baby

    • dean

      Chris k…thanks for setting us straight on Houston. On design review, it does not necessarily result in everything looking the same. The Pearl District in Portland has a lot of architectural diversity. It often has more to do with making sure the street front is user friendly, that cheap materials are avoided, and that shadows are not cast on the wrong places.

      As I understand it, Houston has never been zoned. But it does have a lot of private deed covenant restrictions, as we have with homeowners asociatins in the burbs. I suspect it was these private deed restrictions that were preventing natural, market driven density, and that someone found a way to modify them legally.

      One point your post clearly makes is that density and walkable neighborhoods are market driven creatures. They are not just planners imposing something on communities who prefer to drive everywhere.

      • dean

        I meant that last part as a response to Chris M up above. “New urbanism” is partly market driven, partly something planners are pushing to acheive various objectives. Sometimes direct subsidies or urban renewal districts are needed to help jump start markets, or to make the needed reinvestments in a place to make it work right. In the Pearl, the public investments financed by tax increment gains included street and sidewalk improvements, parks, and the trolley, the latter of which I am not convinced was a wise investment.

        The investment payback on a place like the Pearl is measured over decades, not quarterly reports.

        • Chris McMullen

          Dean, you just spew the same Urban planner rhetoric over and over. I’m surprised someone who purports to be logic-minded just buys the propaganda coming out of the PDC. Then a gain, you are a liberal.

          The Pearl’s URD (Urban Renewal District) extends way pasty the boundaries of the Pearl proper. Property taxes for a huge area will be diverted for another 12 years at least (that is, if the PDC and CoP don’t extend it, which is usually their wont). For another 12 years taxes from properties not in the Pearl will be diverted to pay for the infrastructure of the Pearl. For another 12 years, all those taxes will not be paying for schools, fire, police, parks, libraries and debt.

          Density & new urbanism is NOT market driven. Anything market driven does not need a “kick-start” as you profess. You have no idea what the benefit will be over the next 50 years since any current numbers out of the PDC are unavailable — which is a violation of state law, by the way. But I guess in your mind they’re a government agency and should get a pass.

          However, independent analysis shows these URDs have a negative ROI. The City Club reported that URDs do nothing more than “look pretty”, but like good little liberal lambs, the progressives follow right along with the flock.

          P.S. you think the trolly was a bad investment, but when the government you so love to defend screws up, we all end up paying for it. If that was a private investment risk, we wouldn’t all be on the hook.

          • dean

            Sticks and stones will break my bones Chris.

            We disagree. A recent analysis cited in Atalantic Magazine confirms there is a big market for what new urbanism is trying to provide, mixed use, moderate density, pedestrian and bicycle oriented neighborhoods and districts. It found that if anything, the market for large lot suburban homes is about to head off a cliff. It is way over built nationally, and may soon become our next ghettos, particularly if gasoline prices continue to climb.

            The reason public investment is needed to “jump start” this market is not because the demand does not exist, but because the public infrastructure to support it has gone to seed. We built our roads too wide, our sidewalks to narrow, allowed too deep setbacks on buildings, did a lousy job with zoning rules, and essentially designed cities and suburbs to serve the car.

            People are now paying a lot of money to get into denser, walkable neighbohoods like the one you moved out of. A lot more than they are paying to be in the burbs for comparable square footage. This is a national movement, not peculiar to planner heavy Portland.

            Demographics, energy costs, a different American dream, these are driving this, the planners are only catching up. Look at real estate prices and see for yourself where the market is headed. Cul de sacs are litteraly a dead end.

            For the record, I don’t “love” government. I see it as a necessary inconvenience that does those things we can’t or shouldn’t have to do for ourselves. It is perfectly capable of screwing up, which is why we need to attract the best and brightest to staff it and reward them when they get it right, dock them when they mess up.

            You are on the hook for many private investments that went bad. There are mine tailings all over the west leaching mercury and other poisons into the air and water. There are brownfields all over the place. Get real Chris.

      • chris k

        Yes Houston does have alot of places with deed restrictions but the differents with deed ristrictions and zoning is that it is a private contract that is controlled by the residents of that community. They can be changed most the time with a 70% vote of the residents. Also to by the proberty they know there is deed restrictions and have to sign the contractor before the can purchase the property. So it is not taking away people property rights through force.It returns power to the people of the community. Also they do not stop development as much as zoning the developments just have to adjust to the requirment of the deed restrictions. Also what you get with a city with a combonation of deed restrictted and none deed restrited areas of town is a diversity of neighborhoods. Which is quiet cool.

  • Anonymous

    “People are now paying a lot of money to get into denser, walkable neighbohoods like the one you moved out of.”

    Cite, please.

    “Cul de sacs are litteraly a dead end.”

    Cite, please.

    BTW, the condo market in Portland is plummeting:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/business/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1191898514282930.xml&coll=7

    http://pearlofportland.blogspot.com/2007/11/pearl-condo-market-analysis.html

    http://pearlofportland.blogspot.com/2007/09/condo-inventory-report-september-28.html

  • Anonymous

    It’s pretty simple.

    The average price of a home in Houston is about half of what it is in PDX metro. It’s not because Houston developers have some magic wand that cuts labor and materials costs by 50%. It’s because they don’t have the magic sodomizers of “planning” and irresponsible governments that increase land costs and add enormous amounts of fees to home prices.

    Figure it out.

  • c kevlin

    The simple fact is that a place like Houston which has the most liberal land use policys for a big city in the country also has the cheapest cost of living for a big city.

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