Monday, April 20, 2009

What is the Matter with Pasadena?

In today's Pasadena Star News (my hometown newspaper):

PASADENA - Low-density proponents and affordable-housing advocates could clash today as the city kicks off a series of meetings on whether to ease rules restricting second dwellings.

Residents can speak about the rules governing so-called "granny flats," smaller units typically built at the rear of properties. An existing ordinance prohibits such secondary units, unless the lot is 15,000 square feet or larger.

That restriction means most homeowners in Pasadena cannot build a second unit on their properties.

Affordable-housing advocates believe easing or lifting the restriction could increase the city's stock of low-income housing. But neighborhood groups oppose the changes in principal, fearing increased density and traffic, said Henry Sherrod, head of the Pasadena Neighborhood Coalition.

"In general, we think it is not a good idea. It's not the number of bodies the units would add - it is the number of cars...There are just not enough places for people to park already," he said.

Officials last discussed the ordinance in December, when the city was working on its state-mandated housing element, which is part of the General Plan.

Then, affordable-housing advocates argued that allowing additional units would be a boon to the city's low-income residents and to families looking for affordable housing for older relatives.

The city is behind in its state-mandated quota of low-income housing units by just over 1,000

By comparison, Pasadena has about three times the amount of market-rate housing than it needs, according to state estimates.

Such phenomena as bans on granny flats explain why housing costs more than it should. Fear mongering limits the supply and configuration of housing. While opponents to such housing solutions as granny flats raise issues such as parking, the fact is that many just don't want low income people in their neighborhood, despite the fact that there is no evidence that housing low income people actually reduces property values (The NYU group has done some very good work showing that the opposite can be true).


Anonymous said...

Yeah, they don't want anything except McMansions built. Zoning abuse has really harmed the bottom 50% with regard to housing.

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