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.