Inclusionary zoning is now the law… but what will it change?

South Waterfront
Portland’s South Waterfront development, originally committed to include at least 30% affordable housing, currently has only 10% concentrated in a single project (by REACH CDC).  90% of the housing is “market rate” – and rising fast.

Responding to a wave of soaring rents, displacement and homelessness,  the City of Portland has recently enacted its first inclusionary zoning law.  Under the law, new developments over a certain size must provide a percentage of “affordable” units. The need is urgent and real – but will it work?

Some warn of unintended consequences.   They join the urban economist Jane Jacobs, who advised a deeper look at the dynamics of price and place.  Don’t sprawl, of course, she said — but conversely, don’t kill your centers with kindness.  Instead,  build more great urban places that are all part of the well-connected, diverse fabric of the larger city.  Build serious, community-supported, win-win approaches to getting more homes, within more and better-quality urban places.  She cautioned against “bolt-on” approaches that fail to address the underlying dynamic, and that can even accelerate negative trends.


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