'Blanket' upzonings are the way to go

Different rules for different neighborhoods lead to unfair outcomes.

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. We did a Friendsgiving with neighbors at an Airbnb in Fredericksburg. It was perfect till the water shut off a couple hours before Thanksgiving dinner.

The best thing about HOME is that it's universal

Opponents of the HOME initiative frequently plea for City Council to eschew "blanket" citywide solutions in favor of "context-sensitive" ones. A number of people who submitted protests suggested the city try out the reforms –– three units per lot, reduced minimum lot sizes –– in one or two neighborhoods first.

But the "blanket" nature of HOME is one of its chief virtues. It makes it fairer and it reduces the possibility of some of the unintended consequences that opponents of zoning reform frequently invoke, notably big increases in land prices and therefore property taxes (even if those can only increase 10% per year for homesteads).

Let me put it another way: What if Austin followed Houston's lead and eliminated zoning entirely? Do you think all of a sudden the price of every single-family lot in the city would skyrocket? Of course not. It's not like all of us homeowners are sitting on lots that would be worth many millions if not for single-family zoning. There are many reasons besides the zoning that nobody is going to try to develop my lot in South Austin into a skyscraper (at least in the next 50 years).