Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign website revealed plans for a federal takeover of local zoning laws. If enacted, the plan will force suburban jurisdictions with single-family homes and minimum lot sizes to permit construction of “affordable” high-density housing (apartments) on lots currently zoned for single-family living.
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The professed purpose of the takeover is “to invest in our communities through housing by rebuilding the middle class and ensuring that this time everyone is included.” Translation: Inundate the suburbs with public housing projects.
The actual purpose of the takeover is to eviscerate Republican voting strength in the suburbs by relocating millions of government-dependent voters from America’s inner cities to suburbia.
Some elected Democrats aren’t waiting for Biden to act. Last month, California governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law abolishing local ordinances that call for minimum lot sizes. The new law allows up to four residential units (apartments) to be built on lots that previously were zoned for single-family housing. It’s likely but a matter of time before the Democrat-run state increases the number of apartments allowed per lot by a substantial amount.
A federal takeover of local zoning laws would wreak havoc nearly every middle class suburban neighborhood in America, including the one where I’ve lived for 44 years.
With 800 homes on half-acre-plus lots zoned for single-family living, the heavily forested subdivision I live in has a beautiful lake surrounded by a walking trail, greenbelt areas that provide habitat for deer and other wildlife, eight lighted tennis courts, and a 25-meter swimming pool, and a two-story clubhouse. One of the safest and most livable residential communities in suburban Atlanta, the subdivision is located in one of the highest rated school districts in Georgia. When houses are put on the market, they sell quickly.
Here’s how a federal takeover of local zoning laws could affect the community where I live. Let’s say I decide to sell my house, and that federal rezoning allows up to eight apartments per lot. Let’s say I get two offers, one from a family that wants to live in the house, the other from a real estate speculator who wants to raze the house and build an 8-unit apartment building in its place. My lot would be far more valuable to the speculator, so he makes a much higher offer, and I accept. Once the apartment building is finished, my current neighbors would suddenly be living next door to eight families instead of one.
Let’s say that in subsequent years, half of the other residents in my subdivision also sell their property to a real estate speculator. That means that at some point in the future, 400 of the 800 total lots would have an 8-unit apartment building, causing the subdivision’s population density to sharply increase, from 800 families to 3,600 families.
Due to nothing more than simple economics, the same thing would happen to surrounding subdivisions, causing property values to plummet and traffic congestion to worsen significantly. The local jurisdiction would be forced to build new schools and larger water and sewer systems to accommodate higher density living.
More people would invariably result in more crime, and a once-safe residential area would become a more challenging place to raise a family. With Democrats committed to defunding the police and confiscating guns, suburban families would be virtually defenseless against street crime and home invasions.
Initial planning for a federal takeover of local zoning laws began during the latter part of the presidency of Barack Obama, who viewed the suburbs as too safe, too clean, too livable, too white, too Republican. President Trump derailed those plans, but the plans are now poised to be resurrected under Biden’s “infrastructure” bill.
Now being negotiated in Congress, the bill allocates $213 billion for what he describes as “affordable housing.” In truth, the funding would be used to salt single-family neighborhoods in suburbia with Section 8 apartment buildings. If enacted into law, federal zoning mandates will turn peaceful suburban communities into the kind of urban war zones that exist in inner city areas of every Democrat-run city in America, no exceptions.
Biden’s “affordable housing” wrecking ball will lay waste to tens of thousands of single-family suburban neighborhoods presently inhabited by middle class homeowners of all races, ethnicities and political persuasions. More details of the planned takeover of local zoning laws are described in the New York Post article, “Biden’s ‘infrastructure’ plan wages war on the suburban dream.”
A half-century of Democrat rule has decimated the quality of life in urban America. Now that Democrats control the reins of government, they intend to do the same to the suburban neighborhood where you and your family live.
But don’t despair. For some, there’s good news. You can bet everything you own there will be no high density public housing next door to the palatial mansions owned by Obama, Biden, Pelosi and Schumer.
By John Eidson
A 1968 electrical engineering graduate of Georgia Teach and now retired, John Eidson is a freelance writer in Atlanta and a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative.