April 10, 2012

Herding serfs

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)




Posted by Jeff G. @ 1:39pm

Comments (44)

  1. I didn’t click on the link, just viewed the title, “Low-density suburbs are not free-market capitalism.” That was enough.

    It was obviously written by an economic imbecile. Free markets mean I get to develop my land how I want to, with whatever density I want to. Presumably I would balance density with sell-ability or whatever, in an attempt to maximize my profit.

    I’m again happy that I decided to not live in California any more. I visit (like I am doing now) but they progressives have done their best to ruin this state, and they keep on keeping on.

  2. the Global Warming Solutions Act) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    legislating a lie

  3. Cranky, when did you leave and whereabouts did you land if you don’t mind sharing?

  4. Do they still have farms and farmers markets in California?
    If so, I look forward to the announcement that all such farms and markets will be condensed together into collectives, beginning with the first five year plan in 2013.
    For your own good, you understand.
    Ungrateful hobbits.

  5. Pushed and signed by a “moderate” GOP governor. Like Romneycare!

    So it’s bipartisan serfdom.

    For the record, the house Romney’s building in La Hoya with the garage in the elevator is probably on 20 or more acres. Or it isn’t, meh. Forced to buy the extra land, he can afford it. And it would go a long way toward making sure he had the right kind of neighbors — you know, the ones who don’t demand he light his hair on fire for principles.

  6. related

    All that was needed is a leader who embodies those characteristics. In that sense, Obama is not so much of a Manchurian candidate but a Manichean candidate, that is someone who seems to embody all that is “good” (young, black, hip, handsome, intellectual, compassionate, modern, urban and urbane, etc.) and able to conceal the true import of the movement and its goals. What’s important is not where Obama was born but where the ideas he espouses were born.

    Finally, since the existing society was evil and rotten, those warring against Western democratic states were external allies. And in the early twenty-first century that means predominantly revolutionary Islamists along with some radical nationalists (notably, for example, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez).

    Any attempt to counter this movement, its ideology, and its control of key institutions must begin with a proper understanding of the enemy. Moreover, it should be emphasized that those people who know most precisely that the above analysis is true are those who are quickest to ridicule it.

    Yet to portray what is happening now as merely a typical example of past liberalism misses the point and plays completely into the radical forces’ hands. And real liberals face precisely the same task as their ancestors, particularly in the 1930s-1960s era: How to oppose the far left that seeks to corrupt their ideas and throw it out of their institutions. This task has not even begun.

    One weakness of the radical movement, however, is clear. The old revolutionaries created a new regime that ensured their hold on power. Failures, such as economic inefficiency, could be ignored by using repression and other measures. The New New Left, however, is trying to run an existing capitalist society in which its misfit policies inevitably produce failure and even disaster. What they are doing is somewhat akin to trying to get your computer to boot up by hitting it with a club. Their are also big holes in its control over information, allowing reality to shine through.

    Thus, the failure of their program will be increasingly obvious and sooner or later they will be voted out of power. There is a big difference, however, between “sooner,” when the damage might be reversed, and “later,” when things have gone too far, too many people bought off or indoctrinated, and too much debt accumulated.


  7. I live in the PRC and have had the misfortune of working for a local planning department (I was naive), and I can tell you that it is every bit as bad/communist as you think it is.

  8. Heh, Romney’s house has a garage in the elevator?
    Sweet Jesus, talk about overkill.

  9. What a bunch of hobbits! Government is just ensuring that product is produced (hamster-housing) that private enterprise has been neglecting in its search for what it likes to call “customers”. You see, there’s all this pent-up demand for 723 square foot 4-bedroom/1-bathroom homes that will be close to downtown and easily commutable by bus. No more will people have to live in homes filled with useless amenities like hallways and garages. With bus stops never more than 4-10 blocks away, there will be no need for cars and therefore, no need for garages. Genius really.

  10. And don’t even think about the Home-Owner’s Associations filled with micro-Hitlers…

  11. you know, the ones who don’t demand he light his hair on fire for principles.

    That’s not hair. It’s a germanium whisker antenna array designed to keep his CPU in constant touch with RNC Headquarters.

  12. Do they still have farms and farmers markets in California?

    Farmer markets, yes. The big argi-businesses hire a suitably ethnic looking guy to sit behind a table a pretend to be a farmer.

    Farms? That depends on the delta smelt I believe.

  13. Might I point out that Mike Murphy, former Republican strategist and insider, was on a Ricochet podcast months ago saying Romney was the only man to win, and Rubio as veep was a done deal. Murphy in his former political career advised the races of:

    Meg Whitman
    Christine Todd Whitman
    John McCain
    Mitt Romney
    Arnold Schwarzenegger

  14. I see from newrouter’s link up above that Barry Rubin’s out there pushing his luck.

  15. Isn’t Mike Murphy one of the polically correct assholes who wouldn’t let McCain say anything bad about Obama, lest there be some kind of misunderstanding resulting in the campaign having to deny that McCain was a racist?

  16. You’ll notice that the forces conspiring for density don’t want things too dense. Clustering people together is okay, but tall buildings are just so unseemly because they’re more profitable for developers and they obstruct a good liberal’s sight lines. Ideally, the world should live in 8-10 story, LEED-certified buildings with green space paid for by developers within five blocks or so of a rail station. They’re really not fascists at all, these people.

  17. I’m again happy that I decided to not live in California any more.

    I have someone who keeps trying to entice me to move back there. I just giggle. Most of my good friends there have gotten the hell out or are planning to do so.

  18. What better way to enjoy California’s natural beauty than to live in a trumped up dormitory?

  19. The liberal dream, courtesy Corbusier:


    The liberal reality:


    The memorable example, for me, was the one building in which Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris (1887-1965), the Swiss watchmaker’s son who went by the name of Le Corbusier, was able to pour out his notions of social amelioration through housing: the Unité d’Habitation in Marseilles, which began receiving its first tenants in 1952. Raised on its thick, raw concrete stilts, massive and domineering, the Unité became an instant classic of Modern architecture. Just about everyone in the profession adored it, or said they did; the only people who couldn’t stand the great grimy beast were the luckless ones who lived in it. We found when we arrived there in 1979 that it was in pitiable condition. Corbu’s béton brut couldn’t be cleaned, the metal-framed windows were hopelessly corroded, the electricity kept shorting out, the brise-soleils or concrete sunscreens were permanently foul with pigeon shit, the “shopping street” halfway up inside was locked and shuttered because ordinary French people prefer to do their marketing on real streets (an obvious aspect of social behaviour that eluded the intellectual grasp of the formgiver, who believed that folk ought to behave in accordance with the dotty authoritarian notions of idealist philosophes like Saint-Simon and Fourier). Saddest of all was the roof, which Corbu had imagined as a sort of concrete Acropolis dedicated to the cult of the sun and of physical culture, like a Greek palaestra, complete with pools and jogging track. It was a chaos of dried slime and broken cinder-blocks. And when the concierge, who hated the place, granted us admission to his flat in the Unité, we found that he and his wife had valiantly fought back against the functionalist plainness Corbu had prescribed for the residents: it was chock-a-block with fringes, bobbles and tassels, Louis this and that, and even a department-store rococo chandelier which, due to the lowness of the ceiling, almost touched the dining-table. Here, the working class had ceased to be the abstraction Corbu fancied. It had taken its revenge on the modernist emperor. I sometimes wonder if the decor of that concierge’s flat is still the same today.

  20. I’ve got 3/4 acre. I’m trying to picture 14 more homes on my property. Can’t see it from my porch.

  21. I’m trying to picture 14 more homes on my property. Can’t see it from my porch.

    these shipping containers would work

  22. Ann and Meade as neighbors, eh?

  23. Ann and Meade as neighbors, eh?

    How utterly unsurprising. Maybe if Annie dearest is still feeling petulant about her dreamboat Barry Soetero she might become part of the solution and downsize into a packing crate.

  24. California has a lot of wildfire problems and some earthquake problems. Is this wise as a STATEWIDE residential building code? It seems idiotic given what most of the region is like.

  25. Arcology is a futuristic word that means ghetto/slum.

  26. California has a lot of wildfire problems and some earthquake problems. Is this wise as a STATEWIDE residential building code?

    Your question presumes the State has a building code to serve the people instead of Mother Gaia.

  27. The thing to keep in mind is that zoning and land use restrictions are designed specifically to allow for variances and waivers, if you have the time, money, legal talent, and political pull to get them.

    Rules are for the little people.

  28. OT – http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/gov_christie_nation_is_becomin.html

    Though Christie alluded to national politics, he spent most of the speech on New Jersey issues. Neither he nor Bush mentioned President Barack Obama, or the likely Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
    Christie has endorsed and campaigned for Romney, while Bush has not publicly endorsed any of the GOP candidates.
    “I have decided to stay out of the limelight,” Bush said. “I don’t think it’s good, frankly, for our country to undermine the president and I don’t intend to do so. But I do intend to remain involved in areas that I’m interested in.”

    Play nice, Republicans. Just like you think the Democrats will. I’m sure Carter and Clinton will be silent about Romney and Obama. Not a peep.

  29. Rules are for the little people.

    Alec Baldwin can’t hear you, he’s in first class playing Angry Birds online while waiting to fly to New York. Romney can’t hear you either. That garage in his elevator has terrible acoustics.

  30. My brother’s home in California is on a decent-sized lot, possibly two full acres. Having only a bit over a year ago saved said house from foreclosure with help from his hat-wearing brother, he will be able to keep it only until Proposition 13 is completely repealed and his property tax is hiked 4000%.

    Which I expect to happen any day now.

  31. Cranky, when did you leave and whereabouts did you land if you don’t mind sharing?

    I moved to MN in 1995 to go to graduate school, and never left. I deliberately chose a part of the country I wasn’t familiar with, because I felt too tied to home.

    I’m not really tied to MN, but I’m not prepared for the trade-offs to live elsewhere.

  32. Shoot, McGehee, your brother can now subdivide and pay you back from the proceeds.

    Anyway, nothing like creating another housing bubble in CA while killing new construction completely. Of course, since new construction is on life support, it’s probably a mercy killing.

  33. McGehee, this state is so utterly fucked up. It’s NIMBYs from Eureka to San Diego. That’s the only reason Prop 13 has lasted so long. The whole nation went right for the 2010 midterms, except Clownifornia… and we put Jerry Freaking Brown back in office, posing as a fiscal conservative. People here voted for our own version of cap-and-tax, and a multi-billion dollar boondoggle “bullet train” from nowhere to nowhere.

    People here are so short-sighted that even when state predations literally cross your doorstep, we still vote for any kind of libtard dream legislation. People wanted a “smart grid” and “smart meters,” and what they got was enormous hikes in utility bills. Nevertheless, they continue to vote Democrat in vast majorities.

  34. OT – uncharacteristically, some thoughful reflections at PJ Media, due to Roger Kimball, one of the few interesting writers there


    A taste:

    John Derbyshire trod firmly on the toes of our society’s racial sensitivities. In so doing, he violated the good manners dictated by those who determine what can be said and what must be left unsaid. John may have been foolhardy in doing that. What I find more disturbing, however, is the reaction his column elicited. John’s column was a contribution to political debate. I believe that the proper response to political debate is more debate, not ostracism. If you find something “beyond the pale” (as one critic said of John’s column) you are also free to ignore it. The cowardly, as well as the unproductive, response is to shout it down.

  35. Shoot, McGehee, your brother can now subdivide and pay you back from the proceeds.

    Oh, I’m sure there’s already a regulation against that. The land will have to be surrendered and given to someone with the right kinds of connections, so the relevant authorities can be sure everything will be done correctly.

  36. McGehee, this state is so utterly fucked up.

    It’s my fault. I left 18 years ago. If I had stayed maybe things wouldn’t have gotten so bad.

    At least, that’s the reasoning the Romneyrrhoids give me for why I need to stay in the GOP fold…

  37. I would grumble about moving back to CA, but Mom is here and CA is where I met my wife, so, not all bad.

    Although, truth be told, we’re all out of here first chance we get.

  38. Nevertheless, they continue to vote Democrat in vast majorities.

    They’re putting something in the water. It’s the only logical explanation.

  39. Chinese change. How it works when the serfs are all rounded up and penned.

  40. Moreover, it should be emphasized that those people who know most precisely that the above analysis is true are those who are quickest to ridicule it.

    How did that visigothiness get through at PJM?

  41. I’m curious to see how this all plays out

    they severely restrict condo conversions here

    I have some huge modern apartment lofty things near me what they built next to the new subway station

    they’re impossibly cheesy but they have really nice fitness facilities plus you can pay your rent online

    but they really are impossibly cheesy and it’s really hard to have people over plus all the glass already has graffitti etched into it

  42. Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking…serf-herder!

  43. Who’s scruffy-looking?

  44. Maybe they should watch Rumblefish again.