Friday Roundup: Downzoning for housing affordability, soda taxes, minimum wage in DC, head tax accountability

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Associated Press: In DC primary, minimum wage is the main topic of discussion

The greatest question mark surrounds a divisive ballot initiative that would change the way that restaurants and bars pay their tipped employees. Initiative 77 would eliminate the “tipped minimum wage” — the two-tiered system under which restaurant and bar owners pay servers, bartenders and bussers a lower hourly wage with the expectation that they will be compensated with tips from customers…

…the proposal has been opposed by a large percentage of both owners and tipped employees. Owners claim that the financial hit could force many bars and restaurants to close — and those that stay in business would only do so by introducing a new service charge, which would have the effect of eliminating most tipping.

Many servers and bartenders also say they are already guaranteed at least the minimum wage under the current law while retaining the potential to earn far more depending on those tips.

Yakima Herald-Republic: Seattle head tax: Public holds officials accountable

Peevish proponents of the Seattle City Council’s head tax portray its near-immediate repeal as a victory for soulless corporate scoundrels. But in reality, it was a win for citizens who demanded accountability from their elected officials — and for a state Constitution that grants them that power. It’s also a lesson for any elected body that listens to its own echoes and not the voices of its constituency on taxation matters.

Tax Foundation: Are soda taxes regressive?

It is documented that retail level expenditures on sugar-sweetened beverages increase very little with income so that their share of the household budget decreases with income. Taxing such a product will therefore be regressive, as the average tax rate would decrease with income. Within households, household income share of retail expenditures decreased with income at a rate of about 0.01 percent of income gains. Across the population, household retail expenditures increase with income at a rate of about 0.1 percent.

New Geography: Which downzoning is evil?

Another day, another story about how evil single-family zoning makes housing expensive. This one is from Seattle, whose urban-growth boundary was drawn more than 30 years ago and, as far as I know, has never been changed.

This article starts from the premise that someone said that families want single-family homes so turning single-family neighborhoods into multifamily housing is “anti-family.” The writer’s response is that most of the city’s new residents are single, not families. Of course that’s true: thanks to the urban-growth boundary, most families with children can’t afford to live in the city and so choose to live in the suburbs.