Michael Andersen Profile picture
Believer, skeptic, humanist, typist & dad. Trying to make cities fairer as a senior researcher for @Sightline. Views here: mine, all mine.
AlgoCompSynth by znmeb Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
Mar 23 19 tweets 4 min read
Many folks think upzoning = more homes, therefore enough upzoning = enough homes.

As a zoning reformer, I'm sad to say this isn't how it goes.

This is wrong for the same reason 4plex legalization doesn't = immediate transformation of every low-density street.

(short thread) The problem with both of these assumptions is COST.

Newly built homes have many cost factors. One of them is land cost per new home. This is high in places with too few homes.

(In places with more homes than would-be residents, like the Ohio city I grew up in, it's low.)
Feb 22 12 tweets 5 min read
What happens when a small city like Fayetteville, Arkansas, makes commercial parking lots 100% optional?

They did - in 2015. I’m excited to share @Citizen_Cate’s latest, the first article I’m aware of to examine what’s happened since. In the last 7 years, there's been lots of attention to *residential* parking mandates.

Which makes sense! When you require people to pay for parking whether they need it or not, you block housing near transit & make low-car cities impossible.

Jan 5 20 tweets 8 min read
Confession time: I've been typing the word "duplex" almost nonstop for 5 years. It's been going pretty well!

But...I'm starting to think the word misses a more important goal: a detached backyard home that can be sold separately.

sightline.org/2022/01/05/bac… Since I became obsessed with re-legalizing duplexes, 4plexes & so on, I've heard three very good critiques over and over:
Dec 14, 2021 14 tweets 6 min read
It's hugely disappointing to me that the whole Portland City Council (@tedwheeler, @DanRyanPDX, @CommRubio, @JoAnnPDX, @Mingus4Portland) has decided to do as these folks urge & keep giving landowners (but not tenants) special power to block nearby housing. @tedwheeler @DanRyanPDX @CommRubio @JoAnnPDX @Mingus4Portland The issue I'm referring to here is National Register historic districts.

Under Oregon's unusual laws, NR districts are a uniquely undemocratic way for landowners to block nearby housing. This makes them dangerous.

Short thread & how you could help:
Aug 1, 2021 7 tweets 4 min read
This morning, after years of work by hundreds of Portlanders, 4plexes, mixed-income 6plexes, double ADUs, big group homes & backyard RVs became legal almost everywhere in town.

I got @nbrhoodwrkshop & @alfred_twu to help show what's likely to happen next. sightline.org/2021/08/01/we-… series of images showing different homebuilding options, an @nbrhoodwrkshop @alfred_twu Crucial info about the image above: if the rents look crazy-high, that doesn't mean they're going to be built with those rents.

It means that *if* local rents rose until those no longer looked crazy-high, these buildings will come to the rescue, starting with the cheapest.
Jul 29, 2021 10 tweets 5 min read
Like many people, I really enjoyed Friday's @ezraklein Show interview with @JerusalemDemsas about zoning & other stuff.

It got me thinking about a key strategic question to the pro-housing movement: WHY do states & provinces hold promise for reform?

sightline.org/2021/07/29/sta… @ezraklein @JerusalemDemsas It's very hard to get a housing-scarce city to allow more housing.

How hard? This week, @landpolicy published the longest thing I've ever written - a reported account of how Portland legalized 4 & 6plexes citywide.

So many ways it could have failed!

May 28, 2021 4 tweets 4 min read
@sarabronin @desegregateCT @Sightline Ha! I'll give you a pass just this once. :)

CA's SB 35 legalized no-parking buildings near transit and 1/unit elsewhere in its "streamlined" housing approval track for cities the state identifies as underbuilding. leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavC… @sarabronin @desegregateCT @Sightline Oregon's HB2001 explicitly struck down all parking mandates for ADUs themselves, and subsequent rulemaking also capped parking mandates for 2-4plexes depending on lot size. (2 total spaces/lot for lots <7k sqft, etc) sightline.org/2020/12/14/ore…
Apr 7, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
important question: is the flying thing at the end of Harrison Bergeron

a) a Borgesian rock and roll "AND AS WE WIND ON DOWN THE ROADS" type thing, or

b) a big reveal that the whole thing has been a satire and ahktually it's television, not communism, that creates mediocrity web.archive.org/web/2018010219…
Feb 25, 2021 20 tweets 10 min read
Oregon bill that would strike down bans on 3-story attached homes within 1/8 mile of light rail & BRT stops has 1st hearing tomorrow.

1/8 mile = 3 blocks. It's a VERY modest bill. League of Cities had been quiet but just said it'll oppose because it heard from a city (Eugene). Cool things in HB2558:
- mandatory bonus (1 extra floor) if below-market homes are included
- gives cities option to instead allow bigger buildings on a smaller share of the station area
- backed by @1000oregon, @OregonSmart, Welcome Home Coalition

Feb 12, 2021 15 tweets 7 min read
I am obsessed with what a big deal a federal monthly credit of $250-$350 per child would be for housing sightline.org/2021/02/12/a-f… A few years ago, the heroic folks at @OCPPnews made the case for Oregon to fund a state housing voucher program.

I found it hugely persuasive. It was also seen as so expensive that it could take a decade to win. If we were lucky.

This would dwarf it.

Feb 11, 2021 12 tweets 5 min read
Good morning especially to @juliefahey & @MarkoLiias, cross-Cascadian housing champs sponsoring bills in both OR & WA to strike down local bans on the number of "unrelated" people who are allowed to share big houses.

sightline.org/2021/02/10/it-… These local bans on shared homes may already be illegal under the US Constitution's right of free association and/or state fair housing laws.

It's 2021! The zoning code isn't allowed to decide who does and doesn't count as a "family." sightline.org/2017/06/12/goi…
Dec 14, 2020 16 tweets 5 min read
No law should require someone to pay for parking spaces they don't need.

Oregon just slashed parking requirements statewide. First state-level action of its kind in US history ❤️🌎🏘️

sightline.org/2020/12/14/ore… The rule applies specifically to "middle housing": duplexes, 3plexes, 4plexes, townhomes & clustered cottages.

In most states that'd be a sweet change, but wouldn't matter too much.

But in Oregon, the same law legalized middle housing on almost every urban lot in the state. So.
Dec 24, 2019 7 tweets 2 min read
Hoo boy here it comes - the long-awaited national realignment on yimbyism.

In OR, even with D supermajorities, we needed a few votes of rural market-fundamentalist Rs to get the bill past Ds from rich exclusionary burbs.

If VA's duplex bill passes, I think that door closes. That's not to oppose VA's bill, or even national realignment!

In case you haven't noticed, there is a group of smart Rs racing to align their party with this (correct) policy position before Ds embrace it.
Aug 22, 2019 10 tweets 5 min read
For the NYT's #1619project, @KevinMKruse explored how sprawl is in some ways a deliberate tool for segregating us by race.

But he didn't quite say *why* sprawl deepens segregation.

One of the main reasons: low-density life is expensive by design.

sightline.org/2019/08/21/did… @KevinMKruse That map - showing race in PDX as of 2010 - is revealing in lots of ways. (National map available here: demographics.virginia.edu/DotMap/index.h…)

Here's the most diverse part of the metro area: East Portland. 1 dot=1 person.

See those hard lines? That's what zoning looks like from space.
Jun 12, 2019 19 tweets 8 min read
I freakin love bus lanes. Here's a DIY presentation I gave a couple years ago that attempts to explain why: docs.google.com/presentation/d… This is a photo of the status quo in Portland rush hour. Can you spot the bus?

We're so accustomed to this that we fail to see how deeply unjust it is.
Jun 4, 2019 21 tweets 9 min read
This is sort of a crazy chart from @OregonDEQ that can be summed up as "detached housing seems to be bad for the environment by every metric we could think of" oregon.gov/deq/FilterDocs… @OregonDEQ Seriously, I do not currently expect to start wearing a button that says "lawns cause cancer" but there you have it
May 20, 2019 14 tweets 6 min read
18% of Astoria homes are in a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Hood River: 14%. Grants Pass: 13%. Portland: 10%.

Why do smaller cities build so much middle housing?

Same reason big cities would if it were still generally legal there: it’s less expensive

sightline.org/2019/05/20/the… This post was inspired by @OPBTOL's excellent report last week on Oregon's middle-housing legalization. opb.org/radio/programs…

In it, @samanthamatsu & @DaveMillerOPB paraphrase Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa as seeming to call middle housing a "Portland solution."

It isn't!
May 7, 2019 15 tweets 6 min read
In this thread & post from last fall, I wrote about how unbelievably stupid it would be to spend $168 million on 5 new parking garages along TriMet's next rail line (2x the dedicated funding for affordable housing)

Today's thread & post bear good news!

My post was harsh; when it came out, it got a lot of pushback from @trimet on various grounds. One of their main substantive points was that a 5-garage scenario was unlikely. (Cool, I replied, but there it is in the documents...)

Now they may be delivering on that implication.
Feb 14, 2019 19 tweets 8 min read
Happy Valentine's Day!

I am celebrating with the following thread about the craziest & maybe most important thing going on right now on my favorite subject: PARKING

Seriously we're on the cusp of a potentially earth-shaking federal policy shift.


it needs your help Here's the full scoop (and I think this is indeed the first coverage of this particular angle): sightline.org/2019/02/14/bel…

The headline is accurate.