As part of President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, the Biden administration wants to incentivize local governments to eliminate zoning for single family home lots to make way for apartment buildings.
“Current zoning laws that favor single-family homes, known as exclusionary zoning, have disproportionately hurt low-income people who can’t afford to move to the suburbs, the administration said. Their only choice is living in crowded apartment buildings. Biden’s proposal would incentivize local governments to get rid of exclusionary zoning by awarding grants and tax credits to cities that change their zoning regulations.”
Americans for Limited Government led the effort to abolish a similar scheme to destroy the suburbs during the Obama-Biden era. Back then the administration imposed the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation that conditioned receipt of $3 billion of annual community development block grants on rezoning neighborhoods along racial and income guidelines.
We urged Congress to take action to defund the regulation. As a result, as soon as the Obama-Biden administration implemented the rule, Congress acted, first with the House of Representatives that adopted an amendment by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to defund implementation of the entire regulation.
Later, an amendment by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) passed the Senate easily 87 to 9 in 2016 that barred the regulation from being used to affect local zoning.
Candidate Biden promised if elected he would bring the regulation right back. From Biden’s campaign website, “Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect.”
Congress should leave the Collins amendment defund in place indefinitely.
Local governments and communities should be responsible for determining what their neighborhoods look like. No one wants nameless, faceless bureaucrats in Washington. D.C. mandating where and how we live. That’s how they do things in China and in the former Soviet Union. The American people and their local representatives will make better choices regarding housing and zoning than the federal government ever will or could.
Besides, this is just another example of liberal hypocrisy.
“The Biden plan’s backers are hypocrites,” former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey said. McCaughey wrote in the New York Post, “Biden himself owns a four-acre lakefront home in upscale Greenville, Delaware, where there is absolutely no public housing, affordable housing, or rentals that accept housing vouchers. And don’t expect any to be built next door to the Bidens.”
She added that Biden “has always had a passion for stately homes and swanky addresses, even buying a 10,000-square-foot mansion that once belonged to the DuPont family, of 19th-century gunpowder wealth. Not exactly the sort of housing setup you’d associate with ‘Scranton Joe.’”
Regulating land use and zoning has largely been a function of local government and it should remain so.
Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Americans for Limited Government.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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