Free-market reforms are the key to solving Texas’ housing affordability crisis. That’s the main takeaway from an insightful new Forbes article authored by Jared Meyer as he surveys the state of play in the Lone Star State.
To bolster his thesis, Meyer cites several legislative proposals currently being debated at the statehouse that promise to get government out of the way and enable market forces to move quickly to bring housing stock online. For example, Meyer highlights a pair of bills aimed at city regulations governing size and density requirements for residential lots.
“HB 3921/SB 1787, sponsored by Rep. Goldman and Senator Bettencourt, lowers the minimum required residential lot size in large municipalities, similar to bills that recently advanced in Montana. In other words, the bill allows developers to get permits to build houses on smaller lots, which would lower housing costs by increasing supply in high-cost areas.”
Meyer also spotlights 2 bills that would prohibit cities from regulating Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), otherwise known as granny flats, cottages, or casitas. Importantly, the bills would only affect municipal regulations, not those imposed by a homeowners’ association, historic districts, or deed restrictions. He writes:
“Another law HB 2789/SB 1412, sponsored by Rep. Holland and Senator Hughes, allows homeowners to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) by right. This means that cities cannot require extra permitting steps that give them discretion over approval.”
Meyer concludes by elevating a proposal in the House that would allow for third-party review in the development process. The bill is aimed squarely at the painfully slow permitting process in effect in many large Texas cities.
“Beyond local restrictions on expanding housing supply, permitting bottlenecks add additional, unnecessary costs to homes. Speaker Phelan prioritized HB 14, introduced by Rep. Harris, to tackle this problem by allowing certified engineers and architects to approve site plan reviews after a designated period of time.”
It is worth noting that the Senate is also considering a similar measure, SB 1786.
As Meyer correctly notes, these are types of good government reforms that will ease Texas’ housing affordability crisis and make life better for everyone looking to share in the American Dream. Now it’s up to the Texas Legislature to make it happen.