Why Democrats Want to Get Rid of the Suburbs

Why Democrats Want to Get Rid of the Suburbs By Linda R. Killian for American Thinker

The war on America’s suburbs has opened a new front.  Buried in President Biden’s proposed budget for 2023 is a $10-billion bribe for suburban communities to remove zoning barriers to high-density housing.  The federal government promises the suburbs funding for street improvements, traffic control, and water and sewer lines if they adopt “housing-forward policies” that eliminate single-family zoning and open their communities to “affordable housing.”

This is no benign endeavor to provide more housing.  It is a strong signal to Democrat-controlled states to gear up the decades-long efforts to bludgeon affluent communities into submitting to “housing justice” and providing their “fair share.”

The New York metro area has been ground zero for efforts to erode local zoning, and if Democrats retain the governorship and supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, the pressure will be on New York’s officials to enact legislation — first to weaken local zoning and then to destroy it.  Their new tools are accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which can be apartments over garages and standalone dwellings, and large multi-family transit-oriented developments (TODs), surrounding train stations and bus depots.

These efforts are being fueled by housing activists and progressive think-tanks like the Brookings Institution, which declared in a January 2022 article: “By some measures, the suburban counties around New York City have some of the worst exclusionary zoning in the nation.”

To understand the hostility to the suburbs, some background is useful.  The initial strategy was to usurp local control through litigation brought by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  It had limited success because to eviscerate local control, HUD had to prove racial discrimination, which by the 1980s and 1990s had largely been eradicated.  So HUD tried other tactics.  In 2009, HUD and a housing activist forced New York’s Westchester County into a settlement to build 750 units of affordable housing due to the county’s sloppy reporting of its federal housing grants.

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