Small-scale, in-fill development blues

Everyone should read this article in today’s NY Times, which goes into great depth about the problems associated with in-fill development in coastal CA.

My experience with the ground-up deal we just completed was similar. No lawsuits, but it did take nearly a year to get permits to add four units to an existing duplex, by right, with no discretionary approvals.

This mess hurts housing-starved cities in at least two ways:

  1. The uncertainty involved means that investors are not inclined to provide capital to build marginal deals, meaning fewer projects get the green-light; and
  2. The extended permitting process adds to carrying costs (interest expenses, property tax, insurance, security, etc.), increasing the total cost of the project and thereby making fewer projects pencil out

What you want is a transparent, rapid, predictable entitlement / permitting process.

What we have is the opposite.