Monday, February 19, 2018

Mike Luckovich

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Scott Wiener: Public menace

2670 geary west from geary
Geary and Masonic project

California left-wingers who want to densify cities to make them affordable are getting some push-back from other left-wingers who think density will push low-income people out of neighborhoods. A proposed bill to eliminate zoning in transit-rich areas in order to allow developers to build high-density housing would, say opponents, displace low-income families from neighborhoods with high rental rates in favor of high-income whites who can afford to pay for high-rise housing.

The opponents aren’t wrong. On one hand, increasing housing supply would seem to make housing more affordable. But affordable for whom? With housing prices in some California cities averaging more than $1,000 per square foot, building high-density housing that costs $400 to $500 a square foot would allow people who can afford that to find a place to live. But hardly anyone can afford that.

The problem is that high-density housing–--that is, mid-rise and high-rise housing–--costs 50 to 68 percent more per square foot to build than low-density housing. If California really wants to build housing that is affordable to low-income people, it needs to build more low-density housing. To build that, it needs to open up land that has been off-limits to development because it is outside of urban-growth boundaries...(Will Density Make Housing Affordable?)

Rob's comment:
Maybe a lot of people seem left-wing to the libertarian O'Toole, but the label doesn't fit Scott Wiener, the author of state legislation to force cities and counties in California to build more housing. 

I've been following Wiener's career since he was a supervisor from a conservative district here in Progressive Land (See Good news: Scott Wiener is leaving town). I've blogged more than 80 times about Wiener as a public menace, beginning with his attempt to undermine initiative rights in San Francisco in 2011.

San Francisco's "urban growth boundary" is fixed by geography---by the ocean and the bay. Hence, the rationale for building residential highrises in the city. Way back in 2004 Michael Bernick tried to warn us about the danger of clumsily applying his misunderstood "transit corridors" idea to fragile city neighborhoods.

One issue seldom mentioned: the city relies on income provided by development. From a 2005 story on the Rincon Hill projects:

An analysis presented by the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development showed Rincon Hill development will generate $11.5 million a year in net revenue for The City's general fund and $117 million in one-time revenues. A city analysis found developers could pay a maximum of $20 in impact fees. "There is a fiscal gold mine if we can get this plan adopted today," said Michael Cohen, director of the Mayor's Development Office.

Richard Hall writes about Wiener's ultimate legislation:

While Senate Bill 827 is getting all the attention it deserves, sitting in its' shadow is another equally onerous Senate Bill proposed by Scott Wiener and likely authored again his partner in crime Brian Hanlon---See Senate Bill 828 with the innocuous title "Land Use: Housing Element."

SB 828 is about "housing quotas." Housing advocates such as the YIMBYs are hoping that with all attention on 827, Senate Bill 828 will slip under the radar. Like Senate Bill 827, Senate Bill 828 demonstrates all the understanding of a child applying over-simplified logic when it comes to planning...(Wiener's Even More Onerous Senate Bill 828)

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The hazard of working for Apple

A comment to the story: "Likely texting while walking into the glass."

Apple Park by Jonathan Ive