Oakland's attempt to pass an inclusionary zoning ordinance--which would mandate that developers set aside a portion of their projects at below-market rates--was shot down by Mayor Jerry Brown last night. Given his strong comments, the Mayor deserves some kudos for his skeptical stance:
Mayor Jerry Brown Tuesday night called for a blue-ribbon commission to study whether developers should be required to set aside at least 15 percent of their projects for low income residents, dramatically casting a tie-breaking vote.
Brown's decision, which prompted howls of anger from the audience in the council chambers, ends any chance that supporters of inclusionary zoning will get the measure on the books before voters go to the polls and decide the fate of Proposition 90, which will severely curtail the council's authority to act.
Brown, who is running for state attorney general and has only two months left in office, said the inclusionary zoning measure would do little to help the 30,000 families living below the poverty line in Oakland, while driving developers – and private investment – out of the city.
"It will not make even a small dent," Brown said.
Brown said the measure would create what he called a "lottery" for the 100 affordable homes and apartments he estimated would be built in a single year, if the measure were implemented, while taxing market rate homes.
"There is no Santa Claus," Brown said. "Someone has to pay."
Sounds like Mayor Brown has been reading Reason's work on IZ in California, which found that IZ produces few affordable units relative to overall need, drives down local construction and pushes development to other communities, and contributes to increased local housing prices as consumers subsize the affordable units by paying higher prices on the market rate units. See our studies here, here, and here.
And a personal thanks to the Mayor, as I will probably be borrowing the "Santa Claus" line for future talks on IZ!