NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Growth Controls Increase Housing Prices

August 26, 2002

Anti-sprawl laws and regulations are making it increasingly difficult -- if not impossible -- for millions of American workers to live close to their place of employment. Building moratoriums and efforts to preserve large chunks of open space have resulted in housing prices far out of the reach of ordinary families.

"There's no question that growth controls increase housing prices somewhere between a little and a lot," comments William Fulton, of the Solimar Research Group, a land-use think tank in Ventura, Calif.

  • According to National Association of Homebuilders data, only 22 percent of homes in the San Diego area are affordable to median income workers there -- and the same is true for 34 percent of Los Angeles homes, 48 percent of homes in Boston and 50 percent in New York.
  • Growth controls are coming under attack in the West, the Northeast and parts of the mid-Atlantic where housing prices have skyrocketed and the construction of more affordable apartments, condos and townhouses has slowed.
  • In Massachusetts, where building moratoriums are popular, only 27 of the state's 351 cities and towns meet the minimum level for affordable housing.
  • Restrictions to stifle growth are coming before the courts -- with a worker toiling near Loudon County, Va. challenging local supervisors on the grounds that their zoning regulations violate the Fair Housing Act by limiting affordable housing and effectively preventing many minorities from living there.

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Anti-Sprawl Fervor Meets Backlash," USA Today, August 26, 2002.

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