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Small cities can remove development barriers

There is a lot of work available and more being done to identify ways to reduce housing development barriers. You can find that pretty easily. But most of it tends to ignore housing development business issues and local governance issues.

The business issues can be over-simplified as decision issues, and production issues.

A builder creates a pro forma to see if their project will pencil and be able to attract financing. Anything that adds to uncertainty, risk, delay, and upfront costs impedes a yes. The converse is true, too.

Production issues vary but barriers are often labor, compliance, and inspection. Inspection delays stretch out timelines without increasing revenues. Compliance issues often involve the risk and uncertainty created by poorly written rules and less-than-helpful bureaucrats. Shortages for skilled trade and general labor are widely known; less talked about are the overhead labor costs of finding, managing, reporting, and resolving disputes.

I know a lot of that seems like it would be impossible to do anything to improve the situation, but even cities with tiny budgets can do a lot if they play well with others, nurture¬†partnerships, and build a local political culture that can get to yes. For everything I’ve mentioned above, something can be done locally, even if we also want big pots of money and new legislation.