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Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:37:54 2012




A few weeks ago I wrote a post questioning conservative antipathy toward the New Jersey Supreme Court's famous Mount Laurel decision. That's a decision that held that exclusionary zoning schemes that make it effectively impossible to build low-income housing in a particular municipality violate the New Jersey constitution. Mike Proto, a spokesman for the conservative activist group Americans for Prosperity, emailed me the following response:

Forcing high density, low income housing into every town in New Jersey is hardly the epitome of a free market. Quite to the contrary, it is social engineering and central planning run amok and everything conservatives rightly oppose. This isn't about property rights, per se. It's about a renegade, activist court imposing its policy preferences against the plain language in the state constitution. Citizens are free to live where they please so long as they are successful enough to do so. And New Jersey communities, through a democratic process, ought to have the right to determine the destiny and character of those communities. Mt. Laurel has stripped this away.

This paragraph exhibits an impressive degree of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, Proto says, the Mount Laurel decision is "social engineering and central planning run amok." On the other hand, New Jersey communities "have the right to determine the destiny and character of those communities," by which he appears to mean enacting laws that effectively exclude those who are not "successful enough" for the community's tastes.

It's true that many New Jersey towns have enacted zoning regimes whose apparent purpose is to determine the "character" of their communities by excluding those who are not "successful enough." It seems to me that free-market conservatives ought to be opposed to these schemes, which violate property rights and are, in fact, "social engineering and central planning run amok."

Admittedly, the New Jersey Supreme Court's Mount Laurel decisions were not, by any stretch of the imagination, a resounding endorsement of unfettered property rights. Rather than striking down exclusionary zoning altogether, the court ruled that towns had an obligation to ensure their zoning schemes made room for a minimum amount of low-income housing. There are a number of ways towns can comply with this constitutional obligation. One option is general housing deregulation. Another is more focused "inclusionary zoning" schemes that mandated certain new development projects include a low-rent units. Towns have the option to directly subsidize the construction of affordable housing units. And the Mount Laurel case also established a "builder's remedy," which allows any developer who believes a town's zoning is too restrictive can sue for the right to build more densely than the local zoning rules allow.

Most towns went with the inclusionary zoning and subsidy options because that approach gives them maximum control over how many units of affordable housing get built. It's true that inclusionary zoning is a kind of central planning, but no more so than than the exclusionary schemes they've replaced. And the blame for these schemes rests primarily with the towns that chose to enact them rather than adopting a more free-market housing policy.

Towns realize that a free market would produce significantly more low-income housing than their current zoning schemes allow. In other words, when Proto says the New Jersey Supreme Court is "forcing high density, low income housing" into New Jersey towns, what he means is that market forces would be providing more high density housing if the law allowed it. The court is simply nudging towns toward allowing builders to meet market demand.

In short, the Mount Laurel decisions were a step toward a freer market for housing in New Jersey. Personally, I would have preferred a more ambitious ruling that struck down exclusionary zoning ordinances as violations of property rights. Such a ruling would have been both more effective at reducing housing costs and would have required less micro-management by the courts. But rather than joining forces with left-of-center affordable housing groups to promote a general deregulation of the housing market, conservatives in New Jersey have found themselves on the pro-regulatory side of the debate, championing the right of towns to enact exclusionary zoning regimes. Apparently "social engineering and central planning" isn't so bad when it's enacted in wealthy suburbs.

(925610)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Rockparkman on Fri Mar 30 20:43:52 2012, in response to Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:37:54 2012.

SDo why do you stick up for the rich so mush. Slime like you make me sick.

(925611)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Rockparkman on Fri Mar 30 20:44:14 2012, in response to Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:37:54 2012.

SDo why do you stick up for the rich so mush. Slime like you make me sick.

(925614)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:51:49 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by Rockparkman on Fri Mar 30 20:44:14 2012.

you're the one that flamed me when i opposed corporate welfare yesterday!

(925616)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Rockparkman on Fri Mar 30 20:56:34 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:51:49 2012.

Libertarianism enables free market economics which has destroyed America. End the bullshit NOW and save western civilization.

(925622)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by LuchAAA on Fri Mar 30 21:33:07 2012, in response to Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:37:54 2012.

similar to westchester ny experiment.

(925630)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by JohnL on Fri Mar 30 22:00:29 2012, in response to Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:37:54 2012.

Interesting. I think the biggest factor for towns is the ratio of property tax income to # children. So another way to change incentives is to remove education from local property taxes to income tax.

Then more efficient towns with better land usage will certainly evolve.

(925654)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Spider-Pig on Fri Mar 30 23:43:45 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by JohnL on Fri Mar 30 22:00:29 2012.

Absolutely. I entirely advocate funding all schools from state revenue to each district in proportion to its school age population.

(925666)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by JohnL on Sat Mar 31 00:34:12 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by Spider-Pig on Fri Mar 30 23:43:45 2012.

There is something which appears entirely fair in a state-wide $x/pupil allocation.

(925669)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by WillD on Sat Mar 31 01:33:15 2012, in response to Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:37:54 2012.

What the hell? Are either of these people even remotely familiar with COAH, Mt Laurel I, and Mt Laurel II? The Mt Laurel Decisions were *never* about anything ANYONE would ever consider high density, nor did they dictate that the housing had to be low income! All the units are sold or rented at the market rate, with any subsidization left to the resident's eligibility for federal, state, or local aid. And even then the subsidization options at the local level were only opened up as part of the reaction to the decisions' impact during the Whitman years.

The *only* thing the original decisions stated was that the local governments could not reduce the number of students in their districts by pricing out the middle and working classes through exclusionary zoning to put their property tax burden on a smaller number of wealthier residents. It was the zoning laws that were struck down by the Mt Laurel decisions that were the attempt at social engineering. The then outer Philadelphia suburbs were trying to create a firebreak against the encroaching suburban mass to the east of them and 'preserve' their upper class status. The state supreme court decided that the local governments did not have the right to deny residence on the basis of economic status when those economics were distorted by that government's own zoning policies.

Of course, seeing how Mount Laurel ended up a bland euclidian zoned suburban hellhole of subdivisions, office parks, and big box stores like the rest of South Jersey east of 295 and west of 206 I guess there is some justice in the world. Now we just need a Mount Laurel III, to force towns which build enormous numbers of senior living communities on greenfield sites to have to send a proportion of their artificially inflated property tax revenue into a general education fund to be disbursed on a statewide basis.

(926642)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by LuchAAA on Mon Apr 2 12:55:57 2012, in response to Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Fri Mar 30 20:37:54 2012.

why did you start this thread?

are you for or against affordable housing in all NJ neighborhoods?

btw- I'm for it.

(926644)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Olog-hai on Mon Apr 2 12:57:04 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by LuchAAA on Mon Apr 2 12:55:57 2012.

I'm for housing being affordable. Dropping property taxes is a good way to achieve that. As for playing with property values, all that will achieve is squalid neighborhoods.

(926657)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by bingbong on Mon Apr 2 13:17:55 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by Olog-hai on Mon Apr 2 12:57:04 2012.

What exactly will that do? Dropping taxes reduces services, underfunds schools. These are the kinds of things that are desirable to homeowners.

Property values,however have been exorbitantly inflated for 40ish years.

(926680)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by SMAZ on Mon Apr 2 14:34:48 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by Olog-hai on Mon Apr 2 12:57:04 2012.

Dropping property taxes is a good way to achieve that.

You mean like in........GERMANY!!

(926681)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by SMAZ on Mon Apr 2 14:36:44 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by bingbong on Mon Apr 2 13:17:55 2012.

Dropping taxes reduces services, underfunds schools.

Property taxes are Communism.

It's means the Government owns your property and you have to pay rent to them.

Property taxes can be replaced with other taxes and sources of revenue like they do in free countries.

(926688)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by DAND124 on Mon Apr 2 14:48:51 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by LuchAAA on Mon Apr 2 12:55:57 2012.

i'm against government actions that make housing less affordable.

(926689)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 2 14:50:30 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Mon Apr 2 14:48:51 2012.

I'm against government actions that affect housing in general. For the most part.

(926691)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by DAND124 on Mon Apr 2 14:52:51 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 2 14:50:30 2012.

me too but actions that make housing less affordable are especially wrong.

(926709)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by LuchAAA on Mon Apr 2 15:47:35 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by DAND124 on Mon Apr 2 14:48:51 2012.

why?



(926715)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Rockparkman on Mon Apr 2 15:56:12 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by SMAZ on Mon Apr 2 14:34:48 2012.

The coward son of a WHORE chickenhawk always hates on Germany for doing what he thinks America should do. IDIOT cell block BITCH.

(926775)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by bingbong on Mon Apr 2 18:14:26 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by SMAZ on Mon Apr 2 14:36:44 2012.

That's funny. I always thought it meant that you're part of a community and have to contribute to the community's upkeep. It means you send/t, or would, your kids to the community's schools and have to pay for them.

(926777)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 2 18:17:39 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by bingbong on Mon Apr 2 18:14:26 2012.

Schools should be funded by the state and only run locally.

(926778)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 2 18:17:40 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by bingbong on Mon Apr 2 18:14:26 2012.

Schools should be funded by the state and only run locally.

(926894)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by SMAZ on Mon Apr 2 21:47:12 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 2 18:17:40 2012.

I agree.



(927247)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by orange blossom special on Tue Apr 3 17:30:27 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by bingbong on Mon Apr 2 18:14:26 2012.

Careful, you just flat out undermined O'bama and even Senator Franks there.

(927248)

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Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey

Posted by orange blossom special on Tue Apr 3 17:31:50 2012, in response to Re: Affordable Housing and Social Engineering in New Jersey, posted by SMAZ on Mon Apr 2 14:36:44 2012.

Yep, Property taxes are a sin.

Demokrauts want you to pay until your 130 and then kicked out on the street.
Those 'nazi republicans' think you should own your house.


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