The Rent is Too Damn High by Matthew Yglesias

Short, direct and to the point. Yglesias makes a good case that housing prices in the US are a serious problem, and one we can solve. The driving cause is not techies taking over, or greedy landlords driving up rents. Instead, the roots of the problem lie in regulations that restrict housing density.

3 Things I Learned:

  1. The meme comes from a real debate held in the run-up to the New York governor’s election of 2010.
  2. Tall buildings are actually illegal, not just hard to approve, in most suburban areas.
  3. Parking regulations have a large impact on the feasability of a project. For example, if the law requires one parking space per unit, and the bedrock prevents building more than two stories for underground parking, you’ve got a hard limit to high up you can build. Ironically, with denser development placed closer to jobs, we wouldn’t need as many cars. Requiring the parking spaces actually makes congestion worse, in addition to driving up housing prices.