The Homevoter Hypothesis: How Home Values Influence Local Government Taxation, School Finance, and Land-Use Policies

Author: William A. Fischel
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by yonran   2018-09-02
Rather than blaming the company Airbnb for a city’s ills, it may be more helpful to examine why it has popular support in the first place, while family-only zoning is declining in popularity. Short-term rentals in residences were already illegal in San Francisco and New York; they were legalized to allow Airbnb because short-term rentals have popular support from voters. Single-family zoning was designed 100 years ago to create neighborhoods of families who were protected from the nuisances of the lower-class apartment “parasite”s (Euclid v. Ambler) and lower-class houses that were used to raise chickens and take on boarders (https://www.amazon.com/American-Nightmare-Government-Undermi...). I think exclusionary zoning has been so extreme in some cities that it is beginning to lose its support among the middle class, for whom it is now more necessary to use their property as a business rather than only as consumption.

Edit: Related point: In some places, it is ingrained in our culture since the 1970s that housing should be a good investment. Low property taxes (Proposition 13) and zoning restrictions are designed to increase the private gains to this investment (https://www.amazon.com/Homevoter-Hypothesis-Influence-Govern...). A small change of use to short-term rentals is perhaps the next incremental step for house investors. It sucks for people who want to use housing as only a peaceful consumption good, but in my opinion that ship sailed a long time ago in Closed-Access cities.