Tumlin, council show arrogance on renter ratio
August 31, 2012 12:00 AM | 1524 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR: Tuesday’s MDJ reported on Marietta’s vision to increase the ratio of homeowners to renters in the city. Implicit in this vision is the assumption political elites know what is best for individual citizens of Marietta. Mayor Steve Tumlin and the council are essentially claiming individuals have made poor decisions to rent instead of purchase. What arrogance!

To be fair, let’s assume the Marietta Council is that rare, dare I say imaginary bureaucracy which knows more than its citizenry. What is the likely impact of their proposed solution? By structuring zoning laws to restrict development of rental properties, the council will reduce the availability of rental housing, thus driving up its cost. Unfortunately these policies have no ability to raise the income of citizens, so the end result will be to reduce housing affordability overall. Restricting rental housing provides no mechanism to make home ownership more affordable.

The flaw in such master planning is a common one: confusing correlation with causation. Healthy, vibrant communities often have high ownership to rental ratios. But which state causes the other? The mayor and his cohorts assume a rising rate of homeownership will lead to a more vibrant community. More realistically, causation flows the other way. Vibrant communities lead to a rising rate of home ownership, as citizens want and can afford to lock in long-term domicile in a place they enjoy and love.

Let’s not repeat the folly which lead to the last housing bubble and collapse. Leave citizens free to decide for themselves whether renting or owning offers the best value. Our politicos should focus on policies which allow for a growing economy, and the home ownership “balance” will take care of itself.

Russ Wood Powder Springs
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