More on East Bay IZ

Yesterday, I posted some numbers comparing Oakland’s production of affordable housing to several other Easy Bay cities.

I don’t have much to add. I think the numbers speak for themselves. One of the most frequently repeated arguments from inclusionary zoning advocates is that most other cities in the Bay Area have adopted some form of IZ. I have never quite understood this argument – didn’t we all learn as children that someone else doing something is not a good enough reason to do it ourselves? The argument might be persuasive if cities with IZ actually generated a significant amount of affordable units through the program. But they don’t.

From my list, the leader in per capita affordable housing construction is Richmond. No IZ policy until 2001, and the one they adopted then is voluntary. Dublin is next. Their IZ program requires only 5% of units sold BMR, and these are targeted to moderate income (in Oakland, moderate income is $90,000/year). Dublin also has the option of a small in-lieu fee.

The next most productive city is Livermore, where in-lieu fees and off-site construction are encouraged. Livermore’s program is designed to prioritize the production of affordable housing rather than social integration. The city also has highly restricted development policies, and the small number of permits issued are awarded through a competitive process. Developers offering to build a significant number of affordable units are able to entirely bypass the selection process.

If Oakland absolutely must adopt an IZ ordinance (which I still think is a very, very bad idea), we should model it after the variants of IZ are the most productive, not the least.