As usual, California leads the way:
California has declared war on the most popular housing choice, the single family, detached home—all in the name of saving the planet.
Metropolitan area governments are adopting plans that would require most new housing to be built at 20 or more to the acre, which is at least five times the traditional quarter acre per house. State and regional planners also seek to radically restructure urban areas, forcing much of the new hyperdensity development into narrowly confined corridors.
In San Francisco and San Jose, for example, the Association of Bay Area Governments has proposed that only 3% of new housing built by 2035 would be allowed on or beyond the “urban fringe”—where current housing ends and the countryside begins. Over two-thirds of the housing for the projected two million new residents in these metro areas would be multifamily—that is, apartments and condo complexes—and concentrated along major thoroughfares such as Telegraph Avenue in the East Bay and El Camino Real on the Peninsula.
For its part, the Southern California Association of Governments wants to require more than one-half of the new housing in Los Angeles County and five other Southern California counties to be concentrated in dense, so-called transit villages, with much of it at an even higher 30 or more units per acre.
The campaign against suburbia is the result of laws passed in 2006 (the Global Warming Solutions Act) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in 2008 (the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act) on urban planning. The latter law, as the Los Angeles Times aptly characterized it, was intended to “control suburban sprawl, build homes closer to downtown and reduce commuter driving, thus decreasing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.” In short, to discourage automobile use.
If the planners have their way, the state’s famously unaffordable housing could become even more unaffordable.
California’s war on suburbia is unnecessary, even considering the state’s lofty climate-change goals. For example, a 2007 report by McKinsey, co-sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions could be achieved while “traveling the same mileage” and without denser urban housing. The report recommended cost-effective strategies such as improved vehicle economy, improving the carbon efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, upgrading coal-fired electricity plants, and converting more electricity production to natural gas.
Ali Modarres of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles has shown that a disproportionate share of migrating households are young. This is at least in part because it is better to raise children with backyards than on condominium balconies. A less affordable California, with less attractive housing, could disadvantage the state as much as its already destructive policies toward business.
But don’t worry: before you start fretting over this as an attack on private property rights and individual liberty, etc. — you know, all that kind of hysteria that gets you labeled a Hobbit — you should know that, because this kind of zoning is fairly standard (in kind, not in degree), your complaints are vapid and your concerns, mere political opportunism.
Too, any mention about how a 20 acre requirement will lead to enormous gentrification, particularly when it’s in line with other policies meant to shrink the middle class, is simply absurd and hyperbolic: after all, it’s certainly not class-baiting to note that the best areas should be reserved for the best people, is it?
And if that takes a little meddling in the market place and an all out “progressive” assault on the American Dream by statists looking to better “manage” the “masses,” well, a best person’s gotta do what a best person’s gotta do…
(h/t Mark Levin)