April 17, 2024


I’ve been reading a lot about legislative efforts to address our catastrophic housing scarcity problem, and found myself struggling to keep track of all the attempts. I figured someone must have made a database of them all. But evidently not! So I made one:


I made this mostly for my own purposes. I wanted quick answers to my recurring question “wait, which one was SBwhatever again?”, and to see them all together in one place, to get a sense of the current shape and scale of the efforts. Maybe it will be useful to others too.

A few scattered observations from surveying at least a slice of the legislative landscape:

  • Scott Wiener is really a singularly productive leader on this front. I’m also heartened to see so many legislators getting in on the action, and in so many states.
  • Federalism! Really interesting to see the different approaches being taken in different states. Like HB14 in Texas last year, allowing for third parties to step in when local officials drag their heels on approvals. So Texas. Love it.
  • I notice a recurring whack-a-mole pattern where states make some salvo towards preempting local NIMBYism, then cities and counties find ways to ignore and subvert those efforts, then the state tries to close the loopholes, sometimes over several rounds.
  • I wonder if this pattern could be short-circuited in the drafting process. Like AB1820 this session in the CA assembly, mandating up-front fee clarity — great! Love it. But I think it needs some kind of enforcement mechanism from the jump, or it’s going to be ignored! Maybe an appeals process to a state agency that can quickly adjudicate surprise or inadequately disclosed fees to be null & void.
  • The whack-a-mole pattern is particularly maddening because the states are in fact sovereign on matters of land use. Cities and counties have only the power over land use that the states deign to grant them. If they prove themselves to be recalcitrant underminers of duly enacted statewide policy, they ought to simply lose that autonomy entirely.
  • I know it’s slow boring of hard boards, but still disappointing to see nothing on the agenda this year in California that seems likely to unleash homebuilding at any significant scale. What stars need to align for another go at something like SB50 or SB827?
  • Conversely, I saw many bills that I suspect will in practice produce approximately no new homes at all. We need a YIMBY thinktank with a staff of economists and researchers who can quickly and efficiently evaluate policy proposals to estimate how many homes proposed legislation will actually in practice yield over some time horizon vs. the status quo. Bills for which the answer rounds to zero, whether because they’re too anemic, or because they impose just as many new barriers as they remove, are at best a waste of time and political capital.

I’ll continue adding to it as I come across legislation being discussed. But making this comprehensive would require more pairs of hands. So submissions are welcome here. You can also contribue to the codebase directly at github.com/sjforman/yimbypedia. If people find this useful, I may try to make it directly editable, a full fledged wiki.