The myth of “forcing people out of their cars”

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California state Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB 827 — a sweeping approach to solve California’s housing crisis by having the state government preempt local zoning ordinances and allow for greater density near rapid transit stations and high-frequency bus stops — is one of the most important ideas in American politics today.

In particular, SB 827 would change two important things about transit-adjacent land use:

  • Cities and towns would have to allow taller buildings that fit more units on a given piece of land if developers and landowners want to build them.
  • Cities and towns would not be allowed to require the construction of off-street parking spaces to accompany the construction of new dwellings.

Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. It’s the status quo that forces a particular form of land use — detached houses with plenty of parking — on the vast majority of the developed land in America.

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