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News Posted on May 7, 2018

Professors Elmendorf, Frank, Shanske write op-ed for San Francisco Chronicle on affordable housing

Professors Chris Elmendorf, Richard M. Frank and Darien Shanske collaborated on an April 26 San Francisco Chronicle op-ed that suggested ideas to ease the way for more affordable housing in California while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The professors wrote that the recent defeat of state Senate Bill 827 - Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill allowing five-story buildings near transit hubs - was “an enormous setback” to efforts to increase affordable housing while also factoring in the environment.

“California is not going to achieve large-scale, high-density development near transit unless it can change the local politics of housing,” the professors wrote. Elmendorf, Frank and Shanske then offered possible remedies, one of which focuses on California’s “cap and trade” program, under which industrial sources pay penalties for exceeding the ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions.

“California could strengthen pro-housing forces in city politics by folding local governments into the cap-and-trade program,” the professors suggested. “The state would issue a formula estimating the per-dwelling climate impact of new developments, taking account of proximity to transit, size, materials and parking. When a local government permits new housing that’s more climate-efficient than the typical new unit statewide, it would be rewarded with credits to sell in the cap-and-trade market.”

Christopher S. Elmendorf is a Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law whose teaching and research interests include election law, administrative law, statutory interpretation, constitutional law, and property and natural resources law. 

Richard M. Frank ’74 is a leader in the field of environmental law, Professor of Environmental Practice and the founding director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at UC Davis School of Law.

Darien Shanske is a Professor of Law at UC Davis. His academic interests include taxation, particularly state and local taxation, local government law, public finance, and political theory, particularly jurisprudence.