Regulatory progress in Arlington, Virginia?

by on November 2, 2017 at 1:41 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Law | Permalink

Arlington County is considering whether to relax regulations that allow homeowners to legally rent to long-term tenants on a portion of their property, after only 20 homeowners out of 28,000 eligible successfully obtained licenses over the past eight years.

At a time when people increasingly are sharing cars, bicycles and workspaces, and are renting out rooms by the night on Airbnb, the idea of providing a legal way for residents to safely lease their garage or basement room to a young adult — or anyone else — seemed like a no-brainer.

But the detailed regulations, written in part to mollify wary neighbors, apparently stopped the practice from taking off, county officials said.

That is from Patricia Sullivan at the Washington Post.  As a frontier for further deregulation, this does not seem to be a hopeless cause:

California’s legislature passed bills in 2016 that made it easier for local communities to create ADUs, prompting cities throughout the state to adopt ordinances that are designed to be more user-friendly.

Even California.

1 rayward November 2, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Lots of folks in Arlington are going to be affected if the House Republican’s tax proposal becomes law. It cuts in half the amount of mortgage debt that gives rise to an interest deduction to $500,000 from $1 million (32% of new mortgages in Arlington exceed $500,000). The proposal also eliminates the deduction for SALT other than property taxes. Virginia taxes income at rates up to 5.75% on net income above $17,000. If homeowners in Arlington need a little help now, they are going to need much more if the proposal passes. The good news for Cowen is that the House Republican’s proposal should increase mobility of Americans, moving them away from states with high home prices and income tax rates. The proposal reduces the top corporate tax rate to 20% and permits most pass-through entities to take advantage of it (in a nod to large contributors to the Republican Party, I mean owners of hedge funds and other investment partnerships) while keeping the top individual income tax rate at 39.6% (although it does raise the threshold somewhat). All in all, the crafters of the House Republican’s tax proposal were, well, crafty. Not so crafty in one resides in Arlington, NYC, or California.

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2 mulp November 2, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Wait until the kids flood the good school districts overcrowding schools and driving pressure to hike taxes.

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3 mkt42 November 2, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Hmm, my first attempt to post this got sent into moderation, here’s a second attempt but with the links and URLs removed.

Portland, OR has already relaxed its regulation of “tiny houses” that people can install in their yards, either for household members or to rent to guests/tenants. This includes letting people park an RV in their driveway and live in the RV, although that’s an ongoing policy debate.

Some of these tiny houses especially when they are assembled in a pod or village are aimed at the sheltering the homeless, although there’s an AirBnB that consists of a bunch of tiny houses that I presume is aimed at hipster visitors to Portland.

I.e. who lives in a tiny house in Portland? Might be a grandparent, might be a bohemian hipster or green-living architecture student, might be a homeless person.

Tiny houses and alternative living structures have been around pretty much forever, but even five years ago were more of a fringe lifestyle choice. A local radio talk show was interviewing an enthusiastic couple who’d recently moved into one, IIRC it had electricity but no running water. As they burbled about how wonderful their lifestyle was I began to think the interview was sounding like a real-life episode of “Portlandia”.

And then the real-life Carrie Brownstein sent a twitter to the show that said “So I guess people in Portland are now living inside of large coffee mugs”. And later sent a second one: “renting out my mailbox. It’s one-bedroom, could be converted to two. Pets OK”

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4 California November 2, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Building a better tomorrow, today.

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5 CrystalCity November 2, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Arlington County, like California, is a Democratic Party stronghold with a disdain for free markets and adoration of big intrusive government. Any relaxation of regulation is surprising. That bloated county bureaucracy cares nothing about their ‘administrative burdens’ on citizens. Apparently the whole impetus on this specific issue was that the daughter of Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey (D) had difficulty finding housing upon moving to Arlington. Liberal politicians just hate it when government regulations significantly impact ‘their’ economic freedom. Mom to the rescue.

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6 Bill November 2, 2017 at 4:33 pm

What I think interesting is that many Red state urban suburbs will face the same tax impact as Red states.

This will be fun to watch when it is brought down to the household level.

Am waiting for someone to put up a tax comparison software where people can look specifically at how they will fare under the proposal.

By the way, what happened to the Tea Party and its fight against deficits. $1.5 Trillion is no small potatoes.

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7 Bill November 2, 2017 at 4:34 pm

meant same impact as Blue states.

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8 Erik November 2, 2017 at 6:25 pm

The Tea Party was never really against deficits. They were just against *Democrats* spending money, because they have the nerve to spend it on *Democratic* priorities.

What was the Tea Party *really* for? Whatever Fox News told them to be for.

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9 Stuart November 2, 2017 at 5:22 pm

I liked this idea on Twitter, would like to hear more on it:

A well-regulated city lets you build to the next increment by right, everywhere” e.g., SFH to duplex

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10 Erik November 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm

“Even in California”? You tend to get better correction to failed government policy from folks that believe in government’s mission than you do from folks that don’t. If you refuse to believe any of it is good, you tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater on a regular basis, because if you don’t think it’s valuable you don’t take the time to think through the details.

This attitude leads to policy choices that tend to be between status quo and burn it all down. I’ve had too many friends burned out by wildfires to trust anyone who wants to burn it all down – on both literal and figurative levels.

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11 Hoosier November 2, 2017 at 6:44 pm

This article on what has happened to Amsterdam should be a lesson to anyone who thinks that letting anybody rent out their home is an unambiguous positive. No more local character. Just a big theme park catering to visitors.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/nov/01/amsterdam-tourists-worst

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12 Ray Lopez November 2, 2017 at 6:52 pm

As as Arlington county landlord who is in the 1%, I am opposed to this kind of harmful competition. It will not increase consumer welfare and probably increase random crime, cut down on the quality of life, and so forth, and an economist could probably be found to support my views, for a fee.

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13 Jay November 2, 2017 at 8:57 pm
14 BC November 3, 2017 at 10:29 am

“relax regulations that allow homeowners to legally rent…”, “…providing a legal way for residents to safely lease”

Did anyone else find this wording curious? That which is not prohibited by law is allowed. Regulations don’t “allow” or “provide a legal way” for homeowners to rent out property. Regulations prevent that. So, “Arlington County is considering whether to relax regulations that *prevent* homeowners from…” and “the idea of *removing* regulatory barriers that *prevent* residents from safely leasing…” are the natural way to describe the efforts. I’m not trying to play language cop here. Rather, it just seems strange that the author of what otherwise appears to be a pro-deregulation article would describe regulations as allowing or enabling activity rather than preventing or presenting barriers to activity.

“But the detailed regulations, written in part to mollify wary neighbors, apparently stopped the practice from taking off….” Exactly. No “But” necessary.

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