Our Neighborhood's Vices
Last year's NIMBY attempt to roll back SB 9 and 10 finally hit my city and I have thoughts.
Beyond the demand for local control over zoning, which in the broadest sense I am generally in support of, this resolution attempts to name failures of the main state-wide zoning reforms (SB 9 and 10) that are simply fundamental aspects of the housing market over the last 30+ years-- incentivizing speculation, a singular focus on luxury housing, the inability of local jurisdictions to build affordable housing, etc. The zoning reforms are not the cause of the housing crisis, and the proposed change is certainly not the solution.
There is nothing inherent to local control itself that makes policies more equitable. The resolution simply states that the opportunity to enact equitable local policies is lost, which is at best is an unnecessary enumeration of what a state mandate would literally mean and at worst faux concern meant to cynically misdirect people who have a conscience.
Don't be fooled.
The authors and endorsers of this resolution come from some of the least affordable and most exclusive cities in California. Once you consider who they are, their track records, and the tortured language of this resolution, it can be rewritten more plainly as:
We, the most exclusive and least affordable cities in California, don't want to lose our ability to keep the rest of you poors out in order to maintain our property values in an historic housing, homelessness, and affordability crisis, that was, in fact, caused to some extent by us.
These state-wide zoning reforms are taking this power away from us. They also make it impossible for us to make choices that would actually help the rest of you, which we have no track record of doing in the last 30 years. But even if we wanted to, which we absolutely do not, we wouldn't be able to. Isn't that so sad in a completely irrelevant way?
We have particular needs that the state is unwilling to support-- our tax revenues are based almost entirely on the artificial scarcity of housing state-wide, and our geographies, historical policies, and in most cases proximity to actually productive regions allow us to exploit this scarcity for significant material gain.
These gains are obviously for the most part private and thanks to Prop 13 we as individuals are no longer required to fully fund our public programs.
Can't you see why it's such a serious problem for our cities? Can't you??
Now that "market rate" has surpassed any reasonable level of affordability for the average resident of our state, help us take back the ability to build the bare minimum of below market rate, yet still wildly unaffordable, housing so we can pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.
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