Yglesias discovers the comprehensive plan

Matt Yglesias, Slate writer and MOU (market-oriented urbanist), laments Minneapolis’ NIMBYs (emphasis mine):

…if each NIMBY group gets its way, then the “push the costs onto other people” plan becomes self-defeating. Others bear the costs of your NIMBY actions, but you bear the costs of their NIMBY actions. What’s needed is a citywide institutional framework that leads to a less-dysfunctional outcome where valuable projects are allowed to go forward.

Perhaps some sort of community visioning session that combines a look at projected growth, market forces, neighborhood desires, externalities of development, transportation impacts, and comes up with a mutually-agreed-upon document that can guide regulatory land use controls?

Or perhaps he means, as a friend emails, a comprehensive plan and zoning code that aren’t influenced by residents/stakeholders? 1) Good luck and 2) that kind of defeats the purpose.

See my early screed about MOU “solutions”.  MOUs claim market forces can unlock better outcomes for our urban areas, but the big barrier is really one of better process and collaborative decision making, which gets short shrift or no shrift at all in these posts.

3 thoughts on “Yglesias discovers the comprehensive plan

  1. “but the big barrier is really one of better process and collaborative
    decision making” You seem to be assuming that there should be
    “collaborative” decision making about what can be built and where. I
    think Yglesias would argue that while we might want some sort of rules
    about buildings we don’t necessarily need a “collaborative” decision
    making process at all. “Collaborative” strikes me as NIMBY speak for a
    complex system for approval of new construction which takes the form of a
    myriad of veto points against any new construction and the requirements
    of defacto huge supper majorities of people who live in a given area to
    allow new construction. Ygleisas wants to get rid of that model and
    have a much less rigid model in which building housing on land you own
    resembles what kind of car you decided to buy or what you want to have
    for lunch. Some more outlandish things are outlawed, you can’t drive a
    tank down the street (and there can be rules about where tire plants get
    built), but people in your neighborhood shouldn’t get to decided what
    brand of car you buy (even if some folks would argue at a community
    forum that you driving a pick up as opposed to a prius “ruins the
    neighborhood”). Ygleisas would like to see a system where if you’d like
    to buy a vacant lot and build a four story apartment building that
    should be okay, even if a few dozen people in a neighborhood of
    thousands would prefer a community garden.

    • It’s clear from his writing that he wants less land use regulation. Given our democracy, I don’t see these joint decision-making processes going away any time soon. How do we get to a system that allows more flexibility, but isn’t so threatening that the proposal is stopped in its tracks by the existing process? I’ve heard about the end result, what’s the process to get there? Who defines tank?

      • I think that Yglesias doesn’t want less land use regulation, but rather allowances for more housing density. If you follow his writing over time, he does a lot of posts about the real/full costs of homeownership vs. renting, and the issues of supply/demand and housing cost.

        It’s my observation that around Uptown, residents agree that housing is too expensive… but NO MORE DENSITY! It seems they like their SF home neighborhood, their current view, and their free on-street parking.

        When I read/hear the absolutist opinions about towers around Lake Calhoun, I always get a vision of Central Park in NYC and think about how beautiful the contrast is and how I’d love that around Calhoun. I’m not sure why we want to preserve Lake Calhoun’s shore from development as though it were in northern Minnesota. What I love most about it is the urban nature of the lake.

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