US Supreme Court to Decide the Fate of Urban Planners’ Favorite Tool
Urban planners regularly refer to themselves with workmen-like terms. They seek to “build” communities, and to “make” places. They refer to their arsenal of regulatory mechanisms and rules as a “toolbox” and each rule is a “tool.” And now one of these regulatory tools, the blunt hammer known as “inclusionary zoning,” is being challenged at the Supreme Court.+
Last week, the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) announced that it would appeal a California Supreme Court ruling in California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose, which found San Jose’s inclusionary-housing role legal. The PLF press release succinctly explains the regulation:
“San Jose’s ordinance requires developers of 20 homes or more to dedicate 15 percent for city-designated buyers at below-market prices. Alternatively, a builder must pay a fee, estimated by the city itself as [US]$122,000 for each unit that would otherwise have to be dedicated for the inclusionary-housing program.”
They argue that this rule is an unconstitutional taking of private property to pay for a public affordable-housing program which should be funded through tax dollars, rather than exactions from developers. PLF has famously fought and won other cases in this vein, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission and Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. But while Nollan and Koontz were important, these cases have to do with regulations that have far less economic impact than inclusionary-zoning rules.
Read the full article at the PanAm Post.