As Land-Use Rules Rise, Economic Mobility Slows, Research Says

Trend of income gap between poorest and richest states steadily closing is upended by growth in regulations

By: Laura Kusisto

Developer Patrick Kennedy, MSRED ’85 wants to build apartments for middle-class families near San Francisco’s Financial District, but he is struggling to win the city’s approval. The problem: in one spot the building’s courtyard is 5 feet too narrow.

Mr. Kennedy said his efforts constantly run up against such obstacles, which he said drive up the cost of construction and make it nearly impossible to build anything but luxury housing in one of the nation’s most expensive markets.

The courtyard requirement in the city’s planning code is designed to ensure units have sufficient light and air circulation and that the property offers usable outdoor space. Mr. Kennedy said it would force him to eliminate 16 bedrooms from apartments priced about 30% below market rate.

Wall Street Journal Article