The Homework Newsletter

The HomeWork: May 28, 2021

May 29, 2021

Welcome to the May 28, 2021 Main edition of The HomeWork, the official newsletter of California YIMBY — legislative updates, news clips, housing research and analysis, and the latest writings from the California YIMBY team.

News from Sacramento

The Legislature is racing towards a Jun 4th deadline to pass all bills off the floor in their house of origin. All of California YIMBY’s priority bills passed out of their appropriations committees last week, and are headed for floor votes soon or have had them — and we’re feeling optimistic. Already this week, several of our priority bills have passed their house of origin, including SB 9, SB 477, SB 478, and AB 602. We’re disappointed in the failure of AB 550 (Chiu), which would have helped address inequities in policing and street safety with automated enforcement of traffic rules; we hope the Legislature will give this bill another look in the future.

If you’re interested in supporting California YIMBY’s priority bills, contact Louis Mirante at
for draft support letters. If you’re interested in signing up to participate in our rapid response program and participate remotely in legislative hearings with us, please
sign up here

Housing Research and Analysis

New Market-Rate Housing — It Lowers the Rent

The W.E. Upjohn Institute is back with a paper studying the impacts of new market-rate housing development on local rents in low-income neighborhoods. Long-time readers of this newsletter may recall when we covered the working paper by Asquith, Mast, & Reed (2021) here
, but now that it has gone through peer review, its results are more compelling than ever.

Key takeaways:

  1. “New buildings decrease rents in nearby units by about 6 percent relative to units slightly farther away or near sites developed later”— even with migration increasing to high-income areas.

  2. Consistent with Mast’s previous paper, this one finds that as more people move into new housing and vacate older housing stock, the availability of housing in the area actually increases.

  3. The “amenity effects” of new housing, i.e. bringing more desirable shops and services to the neighborhood, don’t raise prices more than the increased housing supply lowers them. As a caveat, the authors note that these effects “could be limited because most buildings go into already-changing neighborhoods, or buildings could create disamenities such as congestion.”


The Limits of Inclusionary Zoning


A new paper by Cassola (2021) examines the costs and consequences of inclusionary zoning policies across the globe. Does requiring a portion of new private, market-rate development to be set aside at limited prices for lower-income households actually improve affordability and economic integration? Though the data is difficult to parse, results appear mixed so far.

Key takeaways:

  1. Inclusionary zoning can be effective in specific regions and contexts, but can also have unintended consequences — such as raising the market price of housing, or destabilizing neighborhoods. It should be seen “as a complement to rather than a replacement for other federal, state, and local affordable housing programs.”
  2. Because inclusionary zoning depends on context-specific variables, these policies “must also be flexible enough to accommodate differing neighborhood dynamics and adapt to changing conditions.”
  3. Because it is a market-based tool intended to ameliorate certain market failures, policymakers should appreciate its limitations and “take a long-term and holistic view of how lower income households may be excluded or adversely affected by the policy.”

Houser Headlines

Upcoming Events

June 3 @ 5:00pm: At-Large Council Districts, Racial Equity and NIMBYism with Professor Michael Hankinson

Following the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, many cities began switching from at-large elections, where all city council members represented the entire city, to district-based elections, where separate members each represented a specific geographic area. How did this change affect how much new housing got built, and where it was located? Michael Hankinson of George Washington University and Asya Magazinnik of MIT studied the shift, and found that switching to district elections resulted in fewer units of multi-family housing. Join us to learn more! RSVP


YIMBY Social – Top Posts


After considering a staggering total of 380 entries in four categories, we're thrilled to announce the winners of Low-Rise design challenge! Details on the winning entries, along with renderings and links to full submissions, can be found here:


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