New Orleans housing advocates urge governor to veto bill on ‘inclusionary zoning’

A local housing advocacy group is urging Gov. John Bel Edwards to veto a recently passed bill that would ban so-called “inclusionary zoning” policies, which require housing developers to set aside units for low-income residents.

The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance argues that inclusionary policies could help Orleans Parish and other municipalities boost the supply of affordable housing.

Senate Bill 462, by State Sen. Danny Martiny of Metairie, passed the Senate on Monday. The bill, which strips state law of language allowing cities to require such set-asides, now heads to Edwards’ desk.

“Without the powerful tool of mandatory inclusionary zoning, our City Council and others around the state will be rendered helpless in creating equitable, sustainable and affordable homes for all,” the housing alliance said in a statement.

Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 26-11, represents a victory for home builders, who claim they should instead be given incentives to add affordable units to their developments.

They argued that forcing developers to keep rents and mortgages low on some units adds significant costs to housing projects. And those costs are in turn likely to be passed on to market-rate renters and buyers — a phenomenon they claim could actually worsen the affordable housing crunch.

The legislative debate kicked off two years ago, after Sen. Conrad Appel of Metairie introduced a similar bill in response to a policy under consideration in New Orleans. That bill passed the Senate but was killed 7-8 in a House committee.

Martiny’s bill passed both houses this year, despite opposition from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.

A proposal at the New Orleans City Planning Commission has been stalled by the City Council for nearly two years amid questions about its finer points and strong opposition from the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans.

But absent a veto from Edwards, the proposal will become moot.

“For these reasons … GNOHA urges Governor John Bel Edwards to intervene, veto Senate Bill 462, and remedy this situation before it’s too late,” the group said.

This article provided by NewsEdge.