Monday 19 February 2024

YIMBY opt-outs

Marko Garlick makes the case for keeping the Medium Density Residential Standards but allowing small blocks to opt out through petition, with deed restrictions expiring within 25-30 years. 

If Houston was anything like cities in New Zealand (or Australia, the UK, or other big US cities) these density-enabling changes would’ve been fiercely resisted by density-hating homeowners. But by most accounts, these changes were largely uncontroversial. Why? Perhaps because Houston allowed pockets of homeowners to ‘opt out’ of these city-wide changes.

Anya Martin’s excellent article in Works in Progress goes through this opt-out process. Landowners within small blocks could collectively opt out of the density-enabling rules via private deed restrictions – similar to covenants in New Zealand – which are automatically recognised by the city. These deeds could be used to, amongst other things, set a higher minimum lot size than the new city minimum – effectively banning townhouses. A simple petition needed to attract just 51% support from landowners. These private deed restrictions would typically expire after 25–30 years.

In short the opt outs:

  • Apply to small geographic areas only; a block, not a whole suburb.
  • Require a majority consent from landowners in that area; a few people can’t decide for everyone.
  • Have a sunset clause; they don’t last forever.

It seems an easier way of operationalising opt-outs from MDRS than having it at district plan level, subject to easy-to-game requirements for immediately releasing 30-years worth of supply. 

No comments:

Post a Comment