A Tax on Social Mobility
. . . because those running our cities are stupid.
Read more below the fold!
"Municipal governments across the country are paying for increasingly expensive social services by jacking up building fees, cutting off the supply of entry-level homes and forcing upwardly-mobile working families to pay more to enter market. The Wall Street Journal reports:
"The housing market has recovered, but sluggish entry-level construction is putting a squeeze on families that would like to buy their first home. A new report pins the blame on City Hall.
The culprit: Impact fees that builders have to pay municipalities when they get permits for new construction, says the report from Zelman & Associates, a housing research firm. These fees fund the local infrastructure needed to support a growing population—schools, transportation, environmental mitigation and utilities. […]
It’s a bigger issue at the entry level because builders face tighter margins to begin with. It is easier for them to pass along these fees on luxury homes that have fatter margins because the fees represent a smaller share of the sales price, and builders have focused heavily on the luxury market in recent years.'"
The US is moving slowly, and inexorably away from the city, into the suburbs, and increasingly into the exurbs. As the gig economy, working remotely, and other new work arrangements begin to take root this will increase, and allow people to move into the deeply rural areas beyond the exurbs. Few are happy living in the cities, and the potential for conflict remains high in the suburbs, but the exurbs and rural areas allow people to live as they wish.
The city taxes on construction, the interminable rules on construction, and the long costly process in general will drive the younger lower middle, middle and upper middle classes away from the cities at an ever faster rate. These policies are quite similar to the policies which turned the Rust Belt cities like Detroit from growing wonders of the modern age into calderas of poverty and despair.
Au revoir city, we never liked you that much to begin with. We will only meet again if the city is willing to become something dynamic, interesting, and valuable. We shall see.
Some more reading:
The latest support for the position that land use, and zoning is destroying our cities . . .
The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, Joel Kotkin
Millennial Home Ownership: Disappointment Ahead in Some Places? | Newgeography.com