COMMENT OF THE DAY: GETTING THE MAXIMUM PRICE ON A MINIMUM LOT SIZE “All things being equal, restricted property is worth less than un-restricted property. However, property for which NEIGHBORING properties are restricted can be MORE valuable. Property owners accept MLS [minimum lot size] restrictions on their own property in return for MLS restrictions on their neighbors’ property. If the value they give up by accepting the restriction on their own property is less than the value they gain by ensuring they won’t end up living next to a townhouse cluster, then it can be in their interest to accept the restriction. If you own a tear-down, MLS restrictions will (probably) reduce the value of your home. If you own a valuable structure on a block with one or more tear-downs, MLS restrictions will probably INCREASE the value of your home.” [Angostura, commenting on Flyer Sent to Very Near Northside Warns of Dangers of Minimum Lot Size Designation] Illustration: Lulu
just wanted to repost the empirical citation from the same thread, because I am proud of actually using empirics and citations on swamplot :)
Angostura is correct, restrictions of this type may benefit those who live far enough away from the edge of the district, at the expense of those who live on the edge of the district (one reason why that historic district boundary announcement the other day was such a joke), but my guess is that no one is actually far enough away from the boundary of this area to not be harmed by this restriction.
empirical analysis of the the distributional impact of zoning using Baytown, TX ‘s creation of zoning ordinance.
“Zoning and the Distribution of Location Rents: An Empirical Analysis of Harris County, Texas”
Jeremy R. Groves, and Eric Helland
Reminds me of “A Christmas Carol”
Not every decision you make about your property is based on increasing its value. Sometimes you just want it to be nicer.
This comment of the day seems valid insofar as it might apply to as many as a few blocks of property owners at a time; but is there ANY circumstance under which minimum lot size restrictions might be good fiscal or social policy for a city or for a region?
@Vonroach, I agree, but I would add that real estate value is not the only value that can be attributed to a home. Many residents see this area as our Community; whereas developers see this area as their real estate investment. The value of a close community, with generations of people working together to support each other, is something that cannot be quantified in a way that makes sense to outside investors. Gentrification and development based solely on market factors disperses the community and our resources, making us poorer, regardless of how much we get from the sale of our house. MLS restrictions are one tool that we hope might be able to maintain the strength of the community. It hasn’t been necessary until now because the rest of the city never really cared about the Near Northside until recently. And they don’t actually care about us, they care about our land. We, however, care about development that would improve the quality of life for the people that have already lived here for decades.
As I posted later in that thread, form the point of view of what’s good for the city, this is a fantastically stupid place to have MLS restrictions. This close to a new light rail line, what we want is rapid densification, preferably in the form of multi-family projects. Imagine if midtown had MLS restrictions in place.
Like zoning, height restrictions, etc., MLS is a way to artificially place a cap on density, thus limiting the housing supply. Cities that have these kinds of artificial limits on housing supply (San Francisco comes to mind) tend to have very expensive housing. This benefits incumbent owners at the expense of new residents, especially those of modest means. (Rent control in NYC has the same effect, but it occurs by reducing the incentive to build, rather than prohibiting it outright.)
I think Nearnort makes really good points, the value that exists in a community is not something that may make sense to the free market, but it does to residents, and hopefully enough of them that they can win MLS protections.
The attitude that some folks seem to have that because it is on a lightrail line means that the neighborhood’s best use is to be liguidated for townhouses and/or multi-family is unfair and a signal that maybe the Afton Oaks folks are right. If light rail is an excuse to displace the people that live there, and destroy one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city, what sane community would let light rail be built there? The proposed boundary does not include North Main, because it is a commercial corridor, and folks hope it will be redeveloped.
“Many residents see this area as our Community. ”
“The value of a close community, with generations of people working together to support each other, is something that cannot be quantified in a way that makes sense to outside investors”
*** “making us poorer, regardless of how much we get from the sale of our house.”
” We, however, care about development that would improve the quality of life for the people that have already lived here for decades.”
If all that is true then lot size restrictions are unnecessary, because “developers (who) see this area as their real estate investment” would never be able to offer enough in exchange for anyone to sell out.
***especially this one, if something makes someone worse off, under their own values/preferences, most people don’t do it
While the light rail line is one factor that might encourage densification, it pales in comparison to the area’s general location within Houston, and the fact that property is cheaper than places like the Heights – there is currently strong demand for decent, newer single family (attached or otherwise) in the urban core, and the segment of that demand which can’t afford Heights-type prices needs to go somewhere…like the Near Northside. The townhouses would come, light rail or not. Again I ask, why do people insist on keeping our urban core as low density, just because it happened to have been built that way originally? If the market wants it to become more like SF or Chicago, why wouldn’t we let it? It’s not like MLS will increase affordability – it will likely make it worse.
Can anyone define what MLS restrictions are? I have seen the term on this blog 30+ times but I’ve never seen a description. Alas, it’s not a term that google’s well because apparently it’s also a common accounting/bookkeeping term.
I would just assure you that people’s views on MLS restrictions in this area have nothing to do with light rail or any other taxpayer-subsidized transportation for high income downtown/med center workers. the issue is that our concerns are about all exsisting and future communities within the entirety of Houston as opposed to solely the present and select neighborhoods. there’s no shortage of healthy and beneficial communities within houston’s rapidly growing and densifying neighborhoods so I still fail to see how a community could or would claim to tie itself solely to it’s housing stock and lot sizes, rather than mere geography.
my concern is that the current residents are interested in MLS restrictions solely to ward off changes of any kind to simply avoid the growing pains of living in a rapidly expanding city. this area will then be forever restricted from denser housing leaving it to be just another neartown enclave for suburbanized high-income housing that prevents the supply of affordable housing that will be desperately needed to build true, healthy communities, based around economic diversity and not the economic homogenity that has so poisoned our past.
cutting out the cliven bundy talk of us vs them, i would just reiterate that it’s not being well communicated as to why current residents feel a changing neighborhood is such a threat to their “community” and way of living. is the concern that increased development will drive up real estate forcing these folks to leave and buy elsehwhere? do they simply feel townhomes are a sign of the apocalypse? do they feel a mix new and old housing means old and new residents would be unable to come together as a community and if so, why?
See here: http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Neighborhood/prevailLotBldg.html
I can’t speak to the motivation for this particular application, but for a lot of MLS applications, the intent of prohibiting sub-division of lots is economic segregation, in which people seek to retain as neighbors the kind of people that can afford the kind of housing that currently exists on their block. In other words, MLS keeps the poors away (or in some cases, the yuppies).
@awp, “if something makes someone worse off, under their own values/preferences, most people don’t do it” – displacement is not voluntary. If your kids grow up and move out and want to live close by, but they can’t afford to buy or rent anything in the area, then they have no choice but to disperse. If denser construction starts popping up around you and you no longer have the quality of life you once did because the infrastructure has not been upgraded to accomodate denser housing, you may have to sell – even if you love your home and your neighborhood – to improve your quality of life.
@Angostura, “MLS keeps the poors away (or in some cases, the yuppies)” –
we are not opposed to new development or to new members of our community. We would welcome compatible development – adding density to strategic parts of the neighborhood, as RoB suggests. There are certainly empty lots and disused commercial property along some of the major corridors that could benefit from development and re-use. This kind of development could help maintain the community as well as add density and improve the lives of both current residents as well as new neighbors.
“If your kids grow up and move out and want to live close by, but they can’t afford to buy or rent anything in the area, then they have no choice but to disperse.”
So, as new neighborhood households are formed we want to make sure that they can stay in the neighborhood by making it so new housing units can’t be built?
@Angostura. “we want to make sure that they can stay in the neighborhood by making it so new housing units can’t be built?”
Not at all. We want to make sure they can stay in the neighborhood by keeping affordable housing options available.
“Not at all. We want to make sure they can stay in the neighborhood by keeping affordable housing options available.”
limiting supply, limits options and affordability.
Minimum Lot Sizes aren’t likely to keep housing affordable. Builders will instead purchase houses (probably at a discount compared to what they would have been willing to pay for townhome land), tear them down, and re-build as very expensive single-family houses. The neighborhood will change anyway and there won’t be very nearly any affordable options left when all is said and done.
Just want to agree with and emphasize that what TheNiche says here “Builders will instead purchase houses (probably at a discount compared to what they would have been willing to pay for townhome land), tear them down, and re-build as very expensive single-family houses. The neighborhood will change anyway and there won’t be very nearly any affordable options left when all is said and done.” is so SO true. My family is all in Oak Forest. I grew up there, want to be there but no way in any forseeable future will I be able to afford to buy or even rent there. Hell, I will probably have to sell the house my parents are in, the one I grew up in and have been waiting to be able to call my own, because when I inherit it I won’t be able to afford the taxes on the paid off home!! MLS is a great idea and it does shape the neighborhood but it also escalates property values when there is significant demand for the area.