Louisiana senators approved Monday night legislation that would assert state authority over local zoning efforts to create affordable housing.
Senate Bill 462 would forbid municipal and parish governments from requiring developers to set aside a certain number of low income units in order to receive building permits for apartment, condo, single family and other housing projects.
No senator raised a question and the measure was approved on a vote of 26-11.
State Sen. Danny Martiny, the Metairie Republican who sponsored the measure, pointed out that a similar bill was approved last year by the state Senate, then was sidelined in the House on promises that the New Orleans City Council would address the issue.
Now, a year later, incoming mayor and city council members are expected to take up the issue of affordable housing soon after taking office in May.
SB462 would replace the term “inclusionary zoning” with “voluntary economic incentive policies,” which would circumvent the usual way local governments create more affordable housing in gentrifying cities that are fast becoming too expensive for many.
Developers and homebuilders argue that requiring additional units that will generate less revenues creates financial pressures that could keep them pursuing such projects.
In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in New Orleans, renters need to earn $18.54 per hour, but the average wage for the city’s renters is $3 per hour less, according to the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.
The New Orleans Planning Commission recommended a “Smart Housing Mix” policy that seeks to expand affordable housing in developing neighborhoods like Tremé and Mid-City.
The fight over “inclusionary zoning” is taking place across country with state legislators favoring financial incentives to build and local lawmakers countering that the cities can’t afford it and the statistics show that such inducements haven’t substantially increased the number of affordable housing units.
The legislation now heads to the Louisiana House for consideration.
Voting for banning “inclusionary zoning” (28): President Alario, Sens Allain, Chabert, Claitor, Cortez, Donahue, Erdey, Fannin, Gatti, Hewitt, Johns, LaFleur, Lambert, Long, Luneau, Martiny, Milkovich, Mizell, Morrish, Peacock, Perry, J. Smith, Tarver, Walsworth, Ward and White.
Voting against SB462 (11): Sens Barrow, Bishop, Boudreaux, Carter, Mills, Morrell, Peterson, Price, Riser, G. Smith, and Thompson.
Not Voting (2): Sens. Appel and Colomb.