It’s not just government; private contracts often prohibit homeowners from serving more residents. In Zoning Rules! (https://www.amazon.com/Zoning-Rules-Economics-Land-Regulatio...), William Fischel describes how zoning can substitute for private CC&Rs, which are worse than zoning in that amendments often require supermajority of all property owners in the neighborhood instead of simple majority. Property rights that are too strong can be just as big of a problem as government regulations that are too restrictive.
If you really, really want to know: https://www.amazon.com/Zoning-Rules-Economics-Land-Regulatio...
Oddly, cities began to freeze in earnest, via zoning laws, in the 1970s. One can see this both from the link and from Google’s Ngram viewer, which sees virtually no references to gentrification until the late 70s, and the term really takes off later than that.
Moreover, the book Zoning Rules! discusses how this actually happened: https://www.amazon.com/Zoning-Rules-Economics-Land-Regulatio.... The fact that it used to be relatively easy to build new housing as demand increases means that we could make it easy again. This is fundamentally a legal problem (we should not allow so many property rights to be violated by non-owners) and a political problem (we are not addressing housing and issues at the right level of government).
It's striking how few affordable housing discussions have a historical view of the issue!
William Fischel draws some links with environmentalism in Zoning Rules! ( http://amzn.to/2oIKbyM ) which make sense. Not that he's against it, but just that it sometimes gets a bit perverted to further the ends of NIMBYs rather than actually protecting much of anything. Making people drive 15 miles back and forth to Longmont isn't terribly great for the planet in some ways. In any event, both SF and Boulder are both places that do have a strong sense of environmentalism (in a lot of good ways too, I think), so that could well be the connection.
Exhibit A: SF's Sierra Club fighting to save... a parking garage.
Houston and Dallas: http://time.com/80005/why-texas-is-our-future/ or, somewhat less usefully, http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottbeyer/2016/08/31/why-is-aus....
The big problem is zoning: https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/r... as it was implemented in the '70s: http://www.amazon.com/Zoning-Rules-Economics-Land-Regulation...
By the way, there is much heat in discussions about housing prices and urban development, but very little light and much misunderstanding. A good rule of thumb is simple: If you don't see any reliable sources being cited, there's a good chance that the assertions aren't true or don't encapsulate the most important parts of the supply-demand picture.
That said, I think housing and cities are overregulated in the US.
Those op-eds point out a lot of issues that you can study further and find that mostly, the cause is zoning and regulation of housing/land use. They also cite other sources.
Here's a book, talking just about parking:
http://amzn.to/2jvfxpJ - Donald Shoup's "The High Cost of Free Parking".
Here are some books about zoning and regulation:
Ryan Avent's "The Gated City": http://amzn.to/2jv3dpk
Bill Fischel's Zoning Rules!: http://amzn.to/2j62fTw - dry and very, very thorough.
Zoning Rules!: The Economics of Land Use Regulation - http://amzn.to/2gZQtqg
It's pretty dry, but very thorough.
Some groups that are good for people who want to get into this stuff more:
It's an area where people can really make a difference: I've managed to chat with a couple of city councilors and our state representative here in Bend, and recently kicked off https://bendyimby.com/
Zoning, basically. It makes density illegal in enough places that transit isn't terribly practical. It also makes even walking to a corner store something that is no longer an option in many new developments. If you'd like to read all about it, this book is very thorough:
If you'd like something a bit more tl;dr, these are good: http://amzn.to/2erOJXL http://amzn.to/2fyXrpG
I haven't read it yet, but this book might be insightful: http://amzn.to/2dQutwR ( Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation )
Other recommendations would be welcome. I'm tremendously interested in this issue.
Edit: I'll add this book, too: "Zoning Rules!: The Economics of Land Use Regulation" - http://amzn.to/2dHphdJ - haven't read it yet but it looks quite informative.
I recommend the writings of Prof. William Fischel (author of Zoning Rules!) to answer this question-- he uses a Coasian approach to identify that restrictive/exclusionary zoning policy is a rational response by homeowners when they are given undue entitlements.
One entitlement that's especially relevant is low property taxes (Prop 13 in California/Measure 5 in Oregon)-- this drives up housing prices and incentivizes homeowners to hold on to housing stock and resist the increase of housing stock elsewhere in their community.
In the U.S., we've collectively done a lot, culturally and legally, to make real estate a principal savings vehicle for many if not most people, and this has had a lot of negative consequences. Zoning Rules!: The Economics of Land Use Regulation (http://www.amazon.com/Zoning-Rules-Economics-Land-Regulation...) by is a good introduction to some of them. Chapters 7 – 9 in particular explain how the 1970s saw the growth of zoning restrictions that have driven housing costs in urban areas relentlessly up.
I'd be curious about alternate land-ownership structures or incentives that make people view housing more as a service than as a good store of value. I don't know what that might mean in practice, but the idea itself seems important to me.
Not really. Something needs to be done about parochial land use laws that prevent supply from rising to meet demand: http://www.amazon.com/TheRent-Too-Damn-High-Matters-ebook/dp.... Until that happens, prices will rise. Despite many efforts to the contrary, you cannot legislate away supply, demand, and prices.
Preventing new development appears to have really taken off in the 1970s, according to Chapters 7 and 8 of William Fischel's Zoning Rules!: http://www.amazon.com/Zoning-Rules-Economics-Land-Regulation.... Until we reverse that dynamic (or make cities less attractive places to live) we're going to see rising prices.
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