Thursday, March 21, 2013

The trouble with Inclusionary Housing

The city purports to encourage developers to build affordable housing by offering them a bonus. If you build, for example, an additional story reserved for low or moderate income renters, you can build another story of luxury units above what the zoning allows. (That's a simplified version, but it's basically how it works.)

Back in 2006 a few of us predicted that developers wouldn't take the bonus because they'd find enough bulk without bothering with the Inclusionary Zoning bonus. That's because the city actually allowed a loophole in the zoning large enough to shove a buiding through it. 

The zoning allows far greater height than the base bulk allowance. So if a developer can buy air rights from an adjacent building, the developer can fill the height with luxury units and not bother with the affordable bonus. 

If the city had modulated the height caps with the bulk allowance, developers wouldn't be able to take advantage of air rights. But since the height caps are fixed and in excess of the base bulk, the city invited developers to buy air rights, encouraged it, welcomed it, pointed to it and ushered the developers to it. 

1 comment:

Bianca Pascuchelli said...

I don´t think developers will have a problem at all. Inclusionary housing means that not only the rich can have a place to live, but also the poor, they can own apartments and do what they want with them. In Argentina, the government is giving loans to the low-income people for them to be able to get buenos aires apartments. They are not forced to live in the flats they buy, they can rent them if they want. It is a possibility not many countries are giving to their inhabitants. Now we can say there is class movility in South America!