May 9, 2019 - From the May, 2019 issue

Richard Florida: 'Build More Housing' Is No Match for Inequality

Even as the California Legislature continues to push one-size-fits-all mandates for dense development onto the hundreds of diverse cities in the state, new research is increasingly pushing back against the dogma that increased supply is the answer to the housing affordability crisis. In response to findings by UCLA professor Michael Storper suggesting that untargeted upzoning can exacerbate high housing costs, inequality, and displacement, nationally renowned urbanist scholar Richard Florida set out to add nuance to the growing debate on housing markets and cities. Please read the full article on CityLab.

Richard Florida

"The rising spatial inequality between cities and metro areas stems from different kinds of economies that distinguish different kinds of cities, not from differences in housing costs." —Richard Florida

"Upzoning is far from the progressive policy tool it has been sold to be. It mainly leads to building high-end housing in desirable locations." —Andrés Rodríguez-Pose

Richard Florida: "Opportunities for improved wages in core areas have stagnated, and the 'ladder has shrunk.' Therefore, the decline in interregional migration can be attributed to many factors, including the new geography of skills and wages. But housing restrictions in prosperous areas wouldn’t top the list. And upzoning ends up fueling, not relieving, economic and spatial inequality. As Rodríguez-Pose told me: 'Income inequality is greater within our cities than across our regions. Upzoning will only exacerbate this.'

Solving the economic and geographic divisions of America and other advanced countries is a task that goes far beyond local housing policy. 'Planning deregulation and housing costs are neither going to solve the problem of areas lagging behind, nor are they likely to have an impact on the economic development of dynamic cities,' Rodríguez-Pose and Storper write. Worse, they caution, 'an excessive focus on these issues at the expense of serious and sustainable development strategies, can fuel economic, social and political distress and anger in declining and lagging areas that can threaten the very foundations on which economic activity, both in less developed and more prosperous areas, has been erected in recent decades.'


When I tweeted Storper’s comments in The Planning Report, I found myself on the other end of a seemingly endless barrage of dismissive and derogatory responses. That makes little sense: The paper is an important cautionary tale. The authors are not saying that we should not build more housing. They are simply saying that doing so won’t magically solve economic and spatial inequality, because both are deeply rooted in the very nature of the geographically clustered and concentrated knowledge economy."

Please read the full the article on CityLab.  


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