Kenyatta Johnson’s Plan for a Point Breeze Housing Shortage

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Via Jan Ransom, Kenyatta Johnson’s wacky land grab plan has passed the Philly Council Rules Committee. Note that the list has narrowed to just 17 privately-owned properties, but it’s still a horrible idea:

City Council’s Rules Committee approved today a measure sponsored by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson that would allow the Redevelopment Authority (PRA) to acquire dozens of properties through eminent domain to build affordable housing.

The controversial plan was called a “land grab” by developers who said they owned some of the properties the city was set to take. But Johnson and city officials said they want to preserve affordability in parts of Point Breeze, a neighborhood ripe with development.

PRA director Ed Covington said that after speaking with private developers, the city will condemn 28 properties down from 43. Eleven of those properties are city-owned.

The problem is that Johnson doesn’t think Point Breeze land parcels should be sold to the highest bidder, and that’s just asking for a housing shortage:

Opposition to the bill has been fueled by misinformation disseminated over the Internet by a handful of people who believe that all available land in Point Breeze should be sold to the highest bidder and used to build houses that sell for in excess of $250,000. Their rationale is that the lots are eyesores, that they have money to buy them and should be able to do so and build and sell homes as they wish.

The problem for the theory that expensive land should be sold for less than the market price is that it means all the other land will end up selling for even more. By keeping expensive land off the market or selling it below market rates, you’re making the rent increases worse for most of the people you say you want to help. The only solution that’ll push rents down is more building, like to the point where developers are building a little too much and dumping more housing units on the market than there’s demand for.

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