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Want a Highrise Next to Your Home? No? How About a Pig Farm?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do you think it is a good idea to give the Department of Housing and Urban Development unchecked power to put an apartment building in your neighborhood? HUD has proposed a new rule that could do just that.

In July, HUD published its long-awaited proposal on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” in the Federal Register. It is a sweeping set of land-use regulations that has attracted little national attention. The agency wants the power to dismantle local zoning so communities have what it considers the right mix of economic, racial and ethnic diversity. A finding of discriminatory behavior, or allegations of discrimination, would no longer be necessary. HUD will supply “nationally uniform data” of what it thinks 1,200 communities should look like…

HUD and Westchester are battling over local zoning that arose from a 2009 settlement (signed by my predecessor) to build 750 affordable-housing units in 31 mostly white communities. Westchester is well ahead of schedule in meeting these obligations. Almost 400 units have financing and 124 are already occupied. But HUD isn’t satisfied because it wants to control local zoning and remake communities.

–       Robert F. Astorino, The Wall Street Journal

Lane Solutions Replies

So – HUD knows exactly what 1,200 communities should like. And Westchester County, NY, should look just like the other 1,199. And if it doesn’t, HUD, in its bureaucratic wisdom, will withhold $17 million that it had promised to the County to build new sidewalks, playgrounds, and other good stuff in poor communities.

What’s that you say? Westchester is already the fourth most diverse county in New York in terms of Blacks and Hispanics? HUD’s federal monitor found no evidence of exclusionary zoning based on race or ethnicity? HUD doesn’t know what its new rule will cost or if it will work? Why does it matter to Lane County what happens in New York?

It matters because if the Feds can “…dismantle local zoning rules” in Westchester they can do it (and more) in Eugene. Or Creswell.

It matters because if you take money from Washington it can tell you what to do with it. And it can take money from you.

It matters because the Feds think they’re smarter than you. This is rule #1 of Liberalism (oops, we meant “Progressivism”). So they can tell you who should be able to build what next to your house.

Oh, and did we mention that complying with HUD’s new rules will cost Westchester between $3 and $9 million? What could it cost in Eugene?