Friday, September 7, 2007

Impact Fee Regulations and Sprawl

This article suggests that impact fees cause higher home prices and, thus, reduce housing affordability:
The issue of whether these impact fees are putting affordable housing out of the reach of a growing number of Americans is also the subject of intense debate. The housing industry maintains that [they are], and a study in 2006 by the Center for Housing at Harvard concurred with that observation.

"At the local level, land-use regulations often make it difficult for builders to develop affordable housing," according to the Harvard study. "Large minimum-lot sizes, restrictions on land available for residential development, impact fees that place the marginal cost of infrastructure and public services on new-home buyers, and approval processes that add risk and delays all play a hand in rising house prices."
The problem with this argument is that it creates a false scenario in that it ties the affordability of housing into only newly constructed homes.

What about the millions of existing houses that could be renovated or rehabilitated?

They are generally not subject to impact fees because the often utilize existing infrastructure. Indeed, yet another example of the terrible fallacy that new construction can ever really address affordable housing in a comprehensive way.