The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday June 24th

Land use ordinances keep prices high


The Oct. 29 article, Apartment ?rm stops accepting Section 8 vouchers, forces people to move, touched on the troubles low-income individuals and families have when trying to find housing in Chapel Hill. The article mentioned that many developments that were formerly considered low-cost options have increased prices and now attempt to attract students.

What the article didn’t mention is that this is a natural outcome of current town policy, which limits development in the majority of the town to low-density construction of single-family homes, often with additional restrictions that further limit the living area available in those residences. These sorts of legal limits prevent the supply of housing from rising to meet the demand for it, and the least fortunate among us pay the price.

Even though land in Chapel Hill is becoming more expensive, housing could still remain affordable if it were legal to use the land intensively enough. Unfortunately, this is just the sort of use current town zoning laws prohibit, and amendments or exceptions to the Land Use Management Ordinance are granted piecemeal and only after an arduous process, ensuring that housing will be systematically undersupplied. Changing to a system that allowed landowners to build what they want on their own property would benefit everyone involved and would actually result in a lower cost to the town.

Before the government considers market interventions to make housing affordable, it should make market solutions legal.

Bjorn Pedersen ’14
Libertarian Party of North Carolina

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