Getting housing policy right is one of the most important things a country can do to promote economic growth and social stability. And in America, where rents are rising faster than incomes in metropolitan areas across the country, squeezing the middle class and suffocating job growth, getting housing right means finding a way to beat back zoning regulations and increase the housing supply. Unfortunately, judging by their 2016 platforms, neither party considers this much of a priority. Justin Fox writes for Bloomberg View:
One can never be certain about these things, but it’s quite possible that excessive land-use restrictions are among the major causes of our long national economic malaise. Jason Furman, chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, made this very point in a speech in November. Yet the platform adopted at the Democratic National Convention this week made no mention of either “land use” or “zoning,” while the Republican platform mentioned them only to condemn the current administration’s purported efforts “to undermine zoning laws in order to socially engineer every community in the country.”
At the local level, new land use regulations are often supported by a coalition of wealthy property owners eager to protect their property values, left-wing “anti-development” activists, and environmentalists. The Obama administration deserves credit for breaking with progressive orthodoxy and quietly leaning on states and localities to ease up on zoning controls to make housing more affordable. But the bipartisan indifference to this problem going forward is a troubling, if minor, illustration of why so many voters feel that political elites don’t have the imagination or resolve to make the economy work for them in the 21st century.