Skip to comments.Affordable Housing: A California Primer
Posted on 03/09/2006 8:33:38 AM PST by SmithL
With every developer West of the Mississippi drooling over the chance to develop some 1/4 acre of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, it seems every politician and city planner worth their salt is now talking about affordable housing. But what is affordable housing in California?
Since normal people know that affordable housing doesnt really exist in the regions of California where normal people really want to live, what is it that big-government, pro-redevelopment politcos really mean when they yap on and on about affordable housing this campaign season?
Two words: Subsidized Housing.
When you look at it, most everything about housing in California (and the U.S. for that matter) is subsidized in one form or another, from FHA loans for the poor to IRS exemptions for home mortgage interest for the rich. Call it whatever you think will make it sound prettier: set-asides, below-market rates (price or interest), aging-in-place residencies for seniors, whatever its still government interference in markets either by price controls, poor management of fannie mae, cash assistance, bond funds, transit village mania, or eminent domain. Theres even subisidies (artificial costs) for organized labor in prevailing wages and Project Labor Agreements! And dont forget subsidies for governments themselves: building codes, child development fees, Measure J dollars for street repairs, and dont forget property taxes and special district bonds. Everybodys got their hand out.
What is affordable housing? These days, its whatever the California Legislature wants it to mean, since it decides what protected groups and favored interests get a taste of the action in a $500-kazillion industry. And usually that definition includes the sad fact that some unprotected or out-of-favor class or interest other than you is paying for the difference of what you paid and what it really costs.
Thats called Progressive Social Policy.
And Redevelopment is what happens when ten thousand people move into Concords new high-density downtown developments.
And when they all get into their cars to go to the Safeway on Willow Pass at 6:00 p.m., its called City Planning.
As a matter of promoting a new housing development some years back, the area was advertised as having "NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING." Thought that was a hoot. Very little California housing is "affordable" as a practical matter, but to boast the construction of UNaffordable housing was completely laughable.
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