Believing that it is not enough to point out the problems that are causing the housing crisis, I hereby submit a list of suggestions that if implemented would begin to relieve the pressure on each of the two housing crises.
This list is not exhaustive, but it would be a very good start.
- Embrace Density – In the metropolitan Richmond area the county planning staffs and planning commissions request oxygen when a density greater than three single family homes to the acre is being discussed. I have personally witnessed single family detached communities with a density of nine units to the acre that were so gorgeous my first impression was that they were not real but rather theatre props. I am aware of attractive density for single family detached homes as high as 15 units to the acre. Higher density reduces the cost per lot for public roads and utilities making the lots less expensive and therefore enabling home builders to produce homes for first buyers that are detached and affordable to them.
- Cash Proffers – Completely eliminate this sinister regressive tax. It is the product of a false narrative about real estate taxes and housing.
- Environmental Regulations – simplify or eliminate. Some suggestions:
- Focus stream regulations only on perennial streams, not intermittent or ephemeral streams;
- Reduce the fees paid for impacting perennial stream;
- Get away from the false narrative of “building” streams, but rather accumulate the impact fees in a fund that is used to radically increase the purity of treated municipal waste water;
- Eliminate nutrient credits and nutrient credit banks, et cetera. Please see the suggestion above. There has to be a better method of reducing nutrients in The Chesapeake Bay other than taking land out of the production of food and putting it in perpetuity into the production of wood fibre.
- Approval Process – Shorten the entitlement process. Two decades ago the complete process necessary to get a residential subdivision approved in metro Richmond was accomplished in approximately one year. Today it is in excess of two and usually three years. Time is expensive both in costs to the developer and therefore the ultimate homebuyer. It also makes it difficult for the industry to react to variations in demand.