One City Councilman's Deranged War on Increased Housing Supply

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 12 2013 3:27 PM

Jim Graham's Insane War on Pop-ups

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Jim Graham gets a big hug from the mayor.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Here in Washington, D.C., there are some blocks where most of the houses are not built up to the full height permitted by the zoning. Since people are moving into the city and demand for housing is increasing, sometimes the owner of a house like this will add an extra floor.

This is for some reason regarded as scandalous behavior, and it leads to all kinds of freaking out about so-called pop-ups. How, everyone wants to know, can these dastardly pop-ups be halted?! At the same time, everyone is very worried about the lack of affordable housing. Here Aaron Weiner lays out Ward 1 council member Jim Graham's multipronged battle strategy* to prevent the supply of urban housing from growing even a little no matter how much demand increases.

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But don't worry—he's for affordable housing too!

* Correction, Dec. 12, 2013: An earlier version of this post said that Graham was my councilman; he used to be, but I now live in Ward 2, which is Jack Evans' district.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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