In 1989, my parents uprooted themselves from their home of 60 years in Queens, NYC, and retired to Sosua, a small town on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. It was the great romantic adventure of their lives, not to mention that they didn’t even need to spend their monthly social security checks to live well.
Paradise was not without its flaws but, hey, in retirement there wasn’t much to do except go to the beach, sight-see, and play golf, so it didn’t matter too much. It’s not like they had a job to go to or all the demands of everyday life back in the States. Still, drinking water wasn’t reliable or even available all the time. Public services were laughably spotty. Public transportation was inadequate. The “city” offices weren’t opened every day. Streets were littered with potholes, storm drains backed up when it rained, and when a strong wind blew in the wrong direction, the power went out.
In other words, welcome to California, 2021.
While Sacramento powers forward with proposing one housing bill after another (dozens per year), hell-bent on allowing private development interests to have a free hand to build whatever they please, however they please -- with zero requirements for affordability, environmentally beneficial green construction methods, or making major improvements to impacted local infrastructure, city services, or schools -- the "state of the state" continues to deteriorate everywhere you look. I’ve written about this extensively, for years, and there are some links to those comments, below.
But all this really has to stop, now, if only to give the dozens of laws already passed in the last 7 years a chance to work (or not work). But the mindset in Sacramento has gone off the deep end in a politically correct, frenetic panic to grow and build as much as possible, misguidedly attempting to address a long list of underlying socioeconomic dynamics that are driving the state’s “unaffordability” problems. Not only will this wreak havoc on the solvency of small cities and counties, and dump all the associated costs on the backs of middle-class taxpayers, but it will create more problems than it solves.
The reasons why we have an affordability problem go much deeper than the housing market. Housing prices are a another symptom, not a cause.
In the coming weeks, we stand on the precipice of the state legislature attempting to pass two more ill-conceived schemes to dramatically increase urban and suburban density and deconstruct single-family home ownership. These are Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10.
The State Appropriations Committee sent SB 9 to the Assembly floor for a vote in the coming days. SB 10 is already on the floor. If the legislature doesn’t pass them by Sept. 10, they will be shelved for this year.
As Livable California recently commented, “There is growing movement urging a NO vote on SB 9 and SB 10, which make homeownership a contact sport for pension funds and rental giants and create no new affordable housing.”
They ask you to consider that,
- Ex-Obama pollster David Binder says 71% of voters oppose SB 9 & 75% oppose SB 10.
- The LA City Council voted to oppose the bills. LA City Council President Nury Martinez said, "Sacramento has lost its credibility in L.A. with land use.” LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz said that SB 9 and SB 10 are “cleverly marketed as helping build affordable housing. But they do the opposite.”
- Tenants’ rights leader Larry Gross of CES says the bills assure “increased developers’ profits … but do not provide for a single unit of affordable housing.”
- Housing is a Human Right ads in the LA Times urging people to fight SB 9 and SB 10.
It's time for the state legislature to stop and take a deep breath and get back to the job of making California livable for everyone who lives here and to stop fanning the flames of a fictitious class war that only exists in their minds.
Yes, we need housing, but not at the expense of everything else. We need to find a more sustainable and equitable way to address the onerous economic challenges facing our working poor and middle class.
To take action, go to: https://www.livablecalifornia.org/act-to-oppose-sb-9-and-sb-10/
First, they came for local control. Now they’re coming for your right to vote
If you’re playing cards and you don’t know who the patsy is at the table
The American Dream is dying a slow death in California
The housing debate in California has lost its way while misguided class warfare continues
The Big Con: Affordability facts that politicians will never tell you
The biggest loser
The great disconnect
The gaslighting of single-family zoning
Bob Silvestri is a 28-year Marin County resident, and the founder and president of Community Venture Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization funded by individuals and nonprofit donors. Please consider DONATING TO CVP to enable us to continue to work on behalf of California residents.