The San Francisco Bay Area is generally considered the most expensive regional housing market in the country. Because the region added jobs and residents at a faster rate than housing, rents and home prices escalated. Moreover, small municipalities, common in the most job-rich parts of the Bay Area, have strong political incentives to resist development of new multifamily housing. Regional Governance and the Politics of Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area explains how a decentralized, localistic structure of government shapes land-use politics in ways that exacerbate housing shortages and inequalities.
The authors evaluate six potential reforms, arguing that targeted changes to local and regional institutions could generate durable improvements to the region’s housing opportunities. The main lesson from the case of the San Francisco Bay Area is the need to focus on governance when addressing the housing challenge. As the authors effectively illustrate, leaving a solution up to individual cities is unlikely to lead to increased housing supply.
“Regional Governance and the Politics of Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area does an excellent job of articulating the connection between local government fragmentation and an undersupply of housing. Lewis and Marantz synthesize past findings about regional governance and usefully situate their discussion of governance options in this existing literature. This is a concise, clear, and comprehensive primer on regionalism and what’s at stake in the discussion about regional governance.”—Juliet F. Gainsborough, Professor of Political Science at Bentley University, and author of Fenced Off: The Suburbanization of American Politics
“Unlike some other books on regional planning and governance, Regional Governance and the Politics of Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area adopts a realist rather than a normative stance by assessing the potential for meaningful reform. The authors evaluate pragmatic, detailed proposals to address housing unaffordability and the jobs-housing mismatch, drawing on their extensive knowledge of the case and presenting nuanced qualitative and well-designed quantitative evidence.”—Zack Taylor, Associate Professor of Political Science at Western University, and author of Shaping the Metropolis: Institutions and Urbanization in the United States and Canada
Political Lessons from American Cities