Comments at the Roanoke Conference

This past weekend I was a panelist at the Roanoke Conference at Ocean Shores, a largely Republican event that includes legislators, other elected officials, legislative staff, and others interested in policy and the legislative process. I was on the panel with Alan Durning of Sightline, Senator Mark Miloscia, Mike Kingsella of the Holland Group. I’ve come to the conclusion that Democrats in our state and locally have lost the high ground on housing. I’ve gone into more detail about this in a post a Forbes. Increasingly, our options to make better and good housing policy are at the state level. Our City Council has failed to lead on housing, making prices worse with restrictive land use policy. And at the state level, it is Republicans that have the principles that would support policies that would lead to more housing supply. I urged them to do so. Here are my comments I made to open the panel. 

Seattle For Growth is a pro-housing advocacy organization and we are for more housing of all kinds, everywhere, and for people of all levels of income.

If we are worried about housing prices, then we’re worried about supply and demand. But the dominant paradigm around housing, a discussion dominated by left leaning democrats and socialists is that, “We need more affordable housing,” when the truth is that, “We need more housing so that it will be affordable.”
This is a Republican issue.
Today, Democrats push a two tiered view of the housing economy. They say the market will never produce affordable housing and the only choice available is tax funded subsidized housing.  Meanwhile, left leaning city councils impose more and more rules, regulations, taxes and fees on market rate housing. Surprise. Then market prices go up.
When this happens, more people qualify for subsidized housing. That means the non-profit housing need more money. So now, in Seattle, a scheme has been divided, Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIZ), to tax market rate housing to pay for these subsidies. Of course this raises market prices, and thus the demand for more subsidies.
This cycle of exaction and subsidy is unsustainable and inflationary, making it more and more difficult for people with less money to live in cities.
And still, left leaning, non-profit housing developers push for more money, more money, more money, when what we need is more housing, More housing, more housing.

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