New York City Government Protects Us from More than Three Living in an Apartment

RoommatesBreakingLawMouaGroup.jpg“From left, Doua Moua, 23, George Summer, 30, and David Everett and Jasmine Ward, both 21, are among six people in a four-bedroom apartment in Hamilton Heights. “It’s part of New York City culture,” Mr. Moua said.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A16) Doua Moua, 23, played a menacing gangster in a Clint Eastwood movie, but Mr. Moua swears he really is a nice, gentle and rules-abiding fellow. At least he was until he moved to New York City and unwittingly slipped into a world of lawlessness.

Mr. Moua lives with five roommates. And in New York, home to some of the nation’s highest rents and more than eight million people, many of them single, it is illegal for more than three unrelated people to live in an apartment or a house.
. . .
Mr. Moua’s landlord, who did not want his name published for fear of a crackdown, said he wrestled with converting some of his apartments into four-bedroom units. He knew it was illegal to allow four unrelated people to live together, but decided that if tenants were willing to live in what was once a dining room, it was fine with him. He could collect slightly more in rent over all and charge less for each room.
“If it’s done in a good way, and there’s not unlimited cramming in, and the shared facilities are adequate,” the landlord said, “then it actually helps solve the affordable housing problem, which I think is a good thing.”

For the full story, see:
CARA BUCKLEY. “A Law Limits Housemates to Three? Who Knew?” The New York Times (Mon., March 29, 2010): A16.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated March 28, 2010 and has the title “In New York, Breaking a Law on Roommates.”)

RoommatesBreakingLaw2010-04-30.jpg“From left, Anya Kogan, 27, Jordan Dann, 33, Nick Turner, 29, and Michelle McGowan, 32, share a town house in Brooklyn.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

Higher Unemployment Benefits May Result in Higher Unemployment Rates

The size and structure of the “safety net” is a subject of hot debate. Hayek in The Road to Serfdom suggested that higher benefits would lead to slower labor market adjustments.
There may have been multiple causes for the high unemployment rate in the U.K. in the 1920s and 1930s. But it is highly plausible that higher unemployment benefits would have made the unemployed more selective in which jobs they would accept, and hence would have contributed to higher rates of unemployment and higher average duration of unemployment.

(p. 7B) The ultimate evidence . . . is from the 1920s, when the Labour Party came to power in the U.K. for the first time. As scholars Daniel K. Benjamin and Levis Kochin pointed out in a Journal of Political Economy paper, the moment was one in which “unemployment benefits were on a more generous scale relative to wages than ever before or since.”

The result was the mother of all jobless recoveries. For almost two decades, from 1921 to 1938, U.K. unemployment averaged 14 percent and never got below 9.5 percent.

For the full story, see:
Amity Shlaes. “Help can hurt job hunters.” Omaha World-Herald (Friday April 16, 2010): 7B.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Pear Growers Suffer From Unintended Consequences of Land-Use Law

PearGrower2010-04-30.jpg“”We hit the wall,” the 63-year-old grower says. . . . , Mr. Naumes showed off a Bosc pear.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A3) MEDFORD, Ore.–Farmers say conditions in southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley are among the best in the world for raising pears. Yet for the past decade, acreage planted in pears has been halved, as has the number of growers.

Land-use regulations designed to maintain open space and preserve farmland are to blame, pear growers here say.
It is a paradox few foresaw in 1973, when Oregon passed Senate Bill 100. That measure, considered a landmark of the budding environmental movement, put Oregon on the map as the “greenest” of U.S. states by placing zoning decisions with a central agency, outside the purview of local authorities.
The law had a huge impact in restricting suburban sprawl throughout the state, preserving environmentally critical habitats.
But since the mid-1990s, more than 3,500 acres planted in pears have gone out of production here. From 87 pear farms operating in 1992, only 48 remain.
. . .
The credit crunch and consumers unwilling to splurge for $30 boxes of pears are behind much of the pain, growers say. Yet they insist their real headache is their inability to raise capital by selling land at top value, which they say would let them buy farmland further from residential areas. That is because land-use laws say their orchards must remain in agriculture.
“It’s the worst case of unintended consequences you can imagine,” says David D. Lowry, chief executive of Associated Fruit Co., the smallest of Medford’s Big Three, who fears his business could be the next to close. Like others, he has plenty of land to sell, but no one willing to buy as long as it is zoned for farming only.

For the full story, see:
JOEL MILLMAN. “Oregon Pear Growers Sour on Land Law; Farmers Say Landmark 1970s Measure Aimed at Conserving Agricultural Areas Limits Their Ability to Nurture Investment.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., APRIL 2, 2010): A3.
(Note: ellipses added.)

PearBarGraph2010-04-30.gif

Source of graph: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.