By Douglas Moran
Housing Policy: It's community, not generationalUploaded: Oct 20, 2015
Although the debate on housing policy has recently been stated in terms of affordability for Millennials, it is actually one of different cultures, and of questions about who profits and who is forced to sacrifice. It is a question of what sort of city that Palo Alto should be, and whether it should be a community, or simply office parks surrounded by high density housing with a few very wealthy enclaves, or something in between. Others have offered similar versions of this choice.(foot#1)
This blog entry was occasioned by the City Council meeting of October 5 (PA Online news article "Residents call for more housing in Palo Alto"). Based on the comments on that article and on a related blog, comments about "entitled Millennials" will be unavoidable, but let me try to blunt that. If you are a Millennial and you make a statement that others can reasonably interpret as a demand that others sacrifice for your benefit, that is entitlement. Similarly if you think that a problem that has afflicted others now warrants special attention because if affects you. On the other hand, a display of entitlement by a Palo Alto Millennial may be the sense of entitlement related to living in Palo Alto, and not generational. Millennials should be aware that the discussion of this issue has been poisoned by individuals and groups claiming to be representative of the concerns of your generation, a topic that will be deferred until a possible later blog entry.
The Council meeting was "It's like deja vu all over again" (Yogi Berra). Housing affordability was a problem when I moved to this area over 30 years ago. For example, I arrived with a PhD + experience in Computer Science and it took me several years and sacrifices to be able to afford a small house (800 sq ft). Even before the DotCom Boom, I had many colleagues move away when they accepted that they couldn't afford both a child and a house. In the 1990s, it was already long recognized that the Palo Alto and nearby areas were not affordable for teachers and City employees. And it wasn't just the employees, but many of the residents active in civic affairs: During a Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee workshop, a CPAC co-chair asked the participants how many would be able to buy their current houses if they were to move here then. No one raised their hand. ... When such an important and widely recognized problem has not only persisted, but worsen, for this long, you should ask why. I will address two aspects. Is the way we are thinking of the problem impeding a solution? Or are there powerful forces that profit from the situation?
I have argued for the first aspect in an early blog entry "The Law of Supply and XXXXXX" (2014-06-10). Briefly, the "Housing Crisis" is a side-effect of the "Jobs Crisis": The local, regional and state governments have allowed/encouraged job growth far in excess of the corresponding housing, schools, parks, transportation and other aspects of infrastructure. But housing advocates insist that increasing supply will improve affordability, ignoring the effects of demand.
Note: When you hear someone say that housing affordability should be a priority, always remember to ask whether they give higher priority to policies that make the problem worse.
The second aspect can be categorized as Crisis Capitalism, which evolved from the term "Disaster Capitalism". Briefly, elites wring concessions from the majority that give the elite additional advantages as a price for their participation in addressing the crisis, or for their not impeding its resolution. Often these crises are the result of that very elite abusing its advantages. The 2008 financial crisis is a prime example. People in the upper levels of the financial industry made fortunes from bad financial transactions, escaped accountability and were allowed not only to keep their ill-gotten gains, but took extortionate bonuses from the taxpayer-funded bailout--the bonuses were rationalized as necessary to retain those people because only they understood the complex mess that they had created.(foot#2) "Privatize profits, socialize losses" was not just in the US, but also in the EU.(foot#3) Crisis Capitalism can involve a chain reaction, where the purported solution to one crisis sets up an even bigger crisis, or crises, and ... For example, recently enacted California Assembly Bill 744 (AB 744) is the latest in a long line of giving zoning bonuses that provide increased profits for developers, both by encouraging larger projects and by exempting them from paying the costs of the project impacts.(foot#4)
One basic purpose of zoning is to balance development with the corresponding public infrastructure, and to provide all property owners a fair share of that infrastructure. The disastrous consequences that can arise from unregulated use of public resources has long been understood in economics under the term "Tragedy of the Commons". A second important purpose of zoning is to provide the balance of uses needed by a functioning community. Different uses--housing, retail, different types of commercial operations--have different returns on investment (ROI), and that allows the buyer and seller of these properties to negotiate fair prices. However, in an environment of Crony/Corrupt Capitalism, the politically-connected buyer can make huge profits from having the property rezoned for higher ROI. For example, Palo Alto's PC zoning (Planned Community) has been suspended because it was so rife with corrupt practices.(foot#5)(foot#6)
The reigning political philosophies in Palo Alto are Neoliberalism and Libertarianism (each with many interpretations). These put little if any value on community, focusing almost entirely on maximizing the value for the individual. In terms of zoning and development, they see regulation to protect the community as being an undesirable burden on the individual: They characterize zoning that prevents over-development as preventing them from "maximizing the value of their property". The lesson they draw from "The Tragedy of the Commons" is to get in early, subvert the regulatory mechanisms, grab as much as they can and get out before the inevitable collapse. It's an economic philosophy that echoes a famous line from The Godfather: "A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns" (multiple minor variations).
Financialization is closely related to both Neoliberalism and Libertarianism. With its focus on financial instruments and financial transactions, there is no room for community, and people are reduced to little more than interchangeable cogs in the economic machine. And because it is a philosophy based on the most fungible of assets--money and assets with high liquidity--it grossly understates the transaction costs for other elements of the economy. For example, it presumes that a 35-year-old hardware designer whose job has been off-shored can trivially obtain a job writing software, ignoring the costs of training and loss of seniority (from project leader to intern). And it ignores that age discrimination (and other forms) is prevalent, if not rampant, in the tech industry. I find it very difficult to have any discussion with advocates for this philosophy because I can't tell how much of their cluelessness is genuine and how much is intentional self-interest (predatory).
The traditional notion of economic growth was to support the inherent growth of your community's population and to improve their standard of living. However, until recently, the dominant perspective--which is labeled "Establishment"--has been that the local economy is crucially dependent on rapid job growth, and the accompanying population growth. When you listen to these advocates you hear about how important it is to support corporations that want to locate jobs here and the necessity of providing housing for those that will move here to fill those jobs. Notice who this perspective benefits: commercial real estate investors and developers. By increasing density of both office buildings and housing, their properties and projects increase in value. For the corporations that occupy these spaces, this densification is both an advantage and a serious problem.
While that excessive growth benefits some, the higher prices and further overburdening the infrastructure results in lower standards of living and quality of life for many, many more. The perspective that prioritizes people, especially residents, over commercial entities has been labeled "Residentialists". They talk of "homes", not "housing". Of neighborhoods, and neighbors. And of community. This perspective is often referred to as "slow growth", but is more accurately "balanced growth" (jobs, housing, infrastructure). You should draw your own conclusions about why the Establishment chooses to misrepresent this perspective as "no growth".(foot#7)
In considering the policy choices to be made, first ask yourself where you fall between the position that priority should be on providing workers to fill jobs and the position that jobs exist to support the community. Then for each of the policy choices, ask the related questions of "Who profits?" and "Who incurs the costs and sacrifices?"
If you asked people what is Palo Alto's dominant industry, most would likely reply "High Tech". But a case can be made that it is education (I haven't crunched the numbers myself, but have heard this from multiple people). If you apply the premium that homebuyers pay to live in the PAUSD and apply it to all residential properties, the total is boggling (the premium--the differential between PAUSD and surrounding districts--is one cited by real estate professionals based upon what they observe dealing with buyers and sellers). With this calculation involving economics, it is naturally more complex than this and subject to being sliced in many different ways. Regardless, this is a reminder about the balance of people in the community.
Families pay for the PAUSD housing premium by either sacrificing other aspects of their lives to pay for it, or by settling for far less house in order to fit within the family budget. Although the latter has been well-known for decades, City Hall's practice has been to allow developers to use national averages to estimate the number of children likely to be in the housing, and through those underestimates, minimize the developer's impact fees.
When you hear someone advocating building housing for Millennials, your first reaction should be skepticism of their advocacy. Are they clueless and naive about the extreme difficulty of targeting housing to specific groups given the extensive local experience with projections and intent going very wrong? Or are they using that goal as cover for a separate agenda? When you hear advocates arguing that letting big developers do their thing will result in good things for the broader population, ask yourself how Trickle-down Economics is working (Acceptable Answers: "Badly", "Increasing income inequality"...).
Your second question should be about what sort of housing units are being considered. You should understand that many compromises are being advocated, for example "micro-apartments" of 150-300 square feet for families.(foot#8) Of course, one should not expect such to ever get built: The traditional practice in Palo Alto has been for the developer to propose such "benefits" to get the project started in the pipeline at City Hall, and then to find that "Whoops, the economics (his desired ROI) don't work" and then get approval to drop most of the benefits. The current City Council is much better at not fall for this shuffle, but this victory is tenuous--it could easily be overturned in any subsequent election.
Other definitions of smaller housing units are 600-800 sq ft. Some seem to think of 1500-1700 sq ft as small.(foot#9) And then there is what is meant by "affordable". Is it relative to the combined salary of a couple with advanced degrees in tech at companies paying well above normal for the area (Google acknowledges doing this)? It is so easy to have an endless argument when you don't bother to determine if you are talking about even faintly similar things.
Similarly when advocates talk about increasing density to allow housing units for "Millennials who want to start families": When concerns are raised about how to handle the impacts of those projects--traffic, schools, parks and other play areas...--the response is that there will be few children living there. One of the bitter lessons of dealing with Palo Alto's pro-development advocates is that you don't ask yourself whether they are going to pull a bait-and-switch, but rather which ones.
The argument for why very small units would be useful is that the intended occupants are rarely there: They are spending most of their time at work or out in public (restaurants...), that is, the housing is a glorified storage unit where they sleep and occasionally eat. They may even get by with showering and changing clothes at work by using facilities provided for bikers or the gym. So the community is being asked to sacrifice to provide housing for people who, by design, are expected to have no involvement in, much less contribute to, the community. Their community revolves around work--this is extremely dangerous because becoming socially isolated is a well-known problem for people who lose their jobs, even for those with a network of non-work friends and neighbors.
The attitude toward restaurants is a useful marker in what sort of city that people favor. For example, Palo Alto Forward (PAF) is an advocacy group that opposes limits on new office developments intended to allow time to reduce deficits in housing and other infrastructure, and one of the frequent refrains from their members is that having more office workers would support a better, broader array of restaurants, especially in the University Avenue area (PAF tends to regard U Ave as the (only) important portion of Palo Alto).(foot#10) Although this is a common attitude of those claiming to speak for Millennials, one hears it from people of all ages. For example, pro-development Council member Liz Kniss routinely uses the ability to find a restaurant to her liking at 10:30pm as a metric for the "vitality", or "vibrancy", of Palo Alto.(foot#11) When "retail" is being discussed for either a district or a particular building or development, listen for how much the advocates equate retail to restaurants, coffee shops and similar food service establishment. People need to be thinking about their metrics for vitality for the city, and injecting it into policy discussions.
Architecture and urban design have a large influence on what types of people live where, and how they interact.(foot#12)(foot#13) This in turn is part of what influences who wants to live where, and who wants/needs to leave.(foot#14) When friends and friends-of-friends who left Palo Alto during the DotCom Bubble return for visits the first thing they comment on is the absurd congestion and the stress levels. But the techies comment on how much the vibe has changed: They encountered far fewer discussions of science and technology, and too many of those tended to be shallow and poorly informed. They complained about encountering unrelenting hype, PR and other forms of marketing, and about the quality of a product being measured in terms of market share and company valuation. Such observations are hardly news to anyone living here, but it is interesting how quickly and strongly it comes from former residents.(foot#15) This cultural difference has long been visible in the differences between Palo Alto's High Schools: Gunn draws more from families that tend to be STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) and Paly draws more from families that are in finance, law and other professions and from executives. Consequently, it isn't surprising that Paly dominates in activities such as football and Gunn in robotics. Housing policy isn't going to reverse this trend, but we shouldn't pursue policies that make this situation worse.
A large part of the debate on housing policy involves the role of single-family homes. These neighborhoods are under assault from multiple groups. One group are "sustainability" advocates who focus almost exclusively on carbon footprint, ignoring the large body of research on the effect of urban and suburban design and environment on human health and well-being.(foot#16)(foot#17)
A second group opposes single-family neighborhoods on political grounds: presenting them as inherently racist, although often using the code phrase "Exclusionary Zoning".(foot#18) Sometimes this is cynical; sometimes the result of ideological blinders. For example, in the debate over the Maybell upzoning, housing advocates argued for it saying that it was a good location for the low-income senior housing component because there was so much other affordable housing nearby, and then turned around and attacked the critics of the project as seeking to maintain an "exclusive neighborhood". These political tactics are national, for example, in Seattle.(foot#19) An article on this area--"The Facebook Effect on Real Estate Prices"--characterized the situation here as using "exclusionary zoning", and by providing a link to the corresponding Wikipedia page (cited above) alerted the readers that the author was using an established meaning for that term and that that meaning included racism . This article was endorsed in the comments by 3 of 6 members of the Board of Palo Alto Forward: Eric Rosenblum and Kate Vershov Downing--both members of the City's Planning and Transportation Commission--and Elaine Uang, PAF founder and member of the City's Citizen Advisory Committee on the update of the Comprehensive Plan. Of course, if you were to ask these people if you are a racist for wanting to have a backyard so that your child and friends can play while you keep an eye on them from inside as you do work, they would say no. Similarly for wanting to have a small vegetable garden. Wanting to hear the chirping of birds outside your window is iffy. But, of course, ideology is immune to the Socratic method, and so they persist in casting those aspersions.
One of the claims of the Urbanistas is that they want more economic diversity (in additional to cultural and racial). However, this doesn't hold up under even mild scrutiny. For example, Palo Alto's Urbanistas support the regional El Camino Grand Boulevard Initiative to redevelop large swaths on both sides of El Camino into high density offices, housing and some retail. The well-known problem for Palo Alto is that this would wipe out large amounts of our more affordable housing. However, the accounting used by the regional/state government favors developers, not residents. For example, if an apartment building that has 20 affordable units is replaced by a new development that is primarily offices but that has 10 units of market-rate housing and 5 units of "Below Market Rate" housing which were each more expensive than any of the units being replaced, the regional government credits Palo Alto with having increased affordable housing by 5 units. This has long been a well-known problem: I have notes of current-Mayor Karen Holman talking about this in 2005 (and recollections of her and others talking about it before that).(foot#20)
Warning: You are not using the term "economic diversity" correctly if you mean that you want to make it easier for you to live in an area where most of the residents are better off than you, especially when that comes at the cost of pushing out those less well off than you.
Although the Urbanistas talk a lot about supporting diversity, it is only as a concept, not in practice. They are quite open in their contempt for people who have different styles of living than theirs, for example, Planning Commissioner Downing's comment cited above included that current residents "very much want to hold onto the Silicon Valley of the past - a pretty suburb and nothing more." For example, Steve Levy (PAF Board; blogger here on PA Online): "trying to go back to an earlier era" (in "Why I Became Active in Palo Alto Forward"). For example, PAF member and unsuccessful City Council candidate A. C. Johnston campaigned on people with other perspectives being "afraid of the future". Similarly for Planning Commissioner Michael Alcheck.(foot#21) And the innumerable references to anyone other than the Urbanista perspective wanting to "return to Mayberry", "return to the 1950s", "return to a sleepy college town",... I sit in meeting where young, childless techies are dismissive of the experience of parents. I shake my head at an elite biker who presumes that because he chooses to bike from Palo Alto to work in south San Jose that everyone should be biking to work....
An emerging public policy problem is that larger and more profitable companies are offering more and more services to their employees, and thereby hollowing out the public sphere. Onsite meals and pickup services such as dry cleaning are examples where the employer wants the employers to spend more time at work. "Google buses" are a different example. Local public transportation has been widely criticized as not viable for most residents, with the typical response from transportation advocates being that people should sacrifice, either by spending inordinate time on transit or to live closer to their jobs. Yet when an employer provides provides its employees with a benefit so that they can live where they want without the sacrifice of public transit, that's an entirely different story.
But elite employers pulling inside increasing amounts of what used to be in public sphere has larger implications: For example, Mountain View merchants are complaining about substantial drops in business from the office parks. Similarly, in San Francisco, there recently was an opinion piece provoked by the disappearance of laundromats in some neighborhoods, and aggravated by a certain cluelessness about pick-up service not being for everyone.(foot#22) I am beginning to hear comments about how things are starting to feel like the former Soviet Union where Party members had access to stores with superior merchandise, and similarly for various cities in Central America (I don't have personal experience with either).
Recognize that hollowing out the public sphere not only impacts those of us living there, but it creates a substantial barrier to people leaving those elite companies for new rising companies, or it so raises the costs for those rising companies that the risk-reward calculation forces them to locate elsewhere.(foot#23)
As usual, I don't offer any suggestions for a solution, other than to start with a better understanding of what is already known. We are currently going through yet another iteration where there are people believe that this is a new problem or a problem that exists only because they haven't applied their brilliance to it (people working on it earlier were a mix of incompetent, stupid and evil).
Before commenting here, I suggest that you scan the comments on the PA Online article cited in paragraph 2 and Steve Levy's blog entry "Do we want a palo alto where only the rich can move here to live" to better inform your comment and to avoid unnecessary redundancy. Levy's blog itself is an example of why it is so hard to address these questions: He asks a very complicated question without even encouraging readers and commenters to consider costs, tradeoffs, side-effects and other considerations that are the basic currency of economic thinking.
1. At a Council hearing after the defeat of the Maybell upzoning, now-Council member Eric Filseth said:
"Vision A is we're a medium-density family town, a great place to live, with good schools to send your kids to. Vision B is more like San Francisco South -- basically the financial and professional hub of the Peninsula. The idea is that Palo Alto will accommodate regional growth through high density office and housing construction, near public transit, and with a thriving retail and entertainment sector to support it. That said, Vision B also comes inherently with unsolvable traffic and parking problems, pollution, and overstretched city infrastructure and schools. If you want Vision B, these things are the price. It is San Francisco South, for better and worse."
A full transcript of his comments available as footnote 4 of my blog entry "Listen for Yourself: An index into 'A Conversation on the Future of the City'" (2013-12-13).
I quibble with Filseth on "thriving retail": Most of the retail of Vision B other than entertainment and restaurants would be for those with high disposable income. I live in southwest Palo Alto where Vision B would make the already badly depleted retail even worse.
2. Most people remember the financial meltdown as involving sub-prime loans on housing, but it was much broader than that. For me the most egregious example was insurance giant AIG and credit-default swaps. These were sold as a form of unregulated insurance, but unlike regulated insurance, there was no requirement that AIG have reserves from which make payouts. Instead, that money went directly to extravagant bonuses for AIG executives.
3. Interesting reading: "The Great Irish Bank Heist" by Brian M. Carney in the Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (2014-11-09): "Five years later, the public still has no clear idea who was paid back for their bad bets on Ireland, or why, or what the stakes were."
An oversimplified version of the Greek bailout is that the German government loaned the Greek government funds to bailout the Greek banks, but with conditions that the Greek banks pay off German banks (and others) that had made bad bets on private loans in Greece. In essence, the German government found a way to bail out its banks while sticking the Greek public with the cost of that bailout. (Note: I am not saying that the Greeks were blameless in having a role in the crisis)
I recommend articles by Joseph Stiglitz (economist, Nobel Prize 2001) such as "Joseph Stiglitz: How I would vote in the Greek referendum" in The Guardian (2015-06-29).
4. AB 744: Links and arguments against the bonuses are in an email letter by Lydia Kou that circulated on various local discussion groups. I am providing a standalone copy (PDF) because the other online copies are difficult to access. This letter appears multiple times in the Packet for the City Council meeting of 10/19/2015 (PDF, 154 pages).
5. See the section "Background: Corruption" in my early blog entry "Replacing the defunct Planning and Transportation Commission: Part 1: Cronyism and Corruption" (2015-08-18).
6. A prime example was the PC rezoning of Alma Plaza (now Alma Village) in contravention of the Comprehensive Plan. Using real estate Comps (comparable properties), it was estimated that the rezoning would alone more than triple the developer's investment, from $6M to at least $18M ("Guest Opinion: Alma Plaza is a $12 million giveaway by our City Council" by Doug Moran (me) in the Palo Alto Weekly, 2007-06-20). It turned out to be even more: The developer had made a contingent sale of roughly 80% of the property for $20.5M with the option payment almost covering the purchase price ("Greenbriar Homes wants $5.31 million back: Fremont-based homebuilder that pulled out of the Alma Plaza project sues developer to get option fees returned", Palo Alto Online, 2009-06-19).
The different aspects of the Alma Plaza fiasco has been used as an example in multiple earlier entries in this blog. The closest to an overview is in "A Self-inflicted Hardship: The City caves in yet again (Alma Village sign)" (2013-12-18).
7. "A reprehensible political ad", blog entry of 2014-11-02.
8. See the section "Workforce Housing" in my earlier blog entry "Should Palo Alto really aspire to be more like a Chinese factory city?" (2014-06-22).
9. There is a growing body of research on the effects of living in small units in various contexts. Although I am not qualified to judge this research, I am very concerned that it appears to be being ignored in Palo Alto's discussion of very small units. One entry point: "The Health Risks of Small Apartments: Living in tiny spaces can cause psychological problems" by Jacoba Urist, The Atlantic, 2013-12-19.
10. For example, in PA Forward's letter to Council opposing an annual office development cap ("Smart Solutions to Parking and Congestion: Addressing Palo Alto's problems head-on", 2015-02-16), they cite faster rates of growth as providing "more vibrancy" via restaurants,...
Palo Alto Online/Weekly news article: "Palo Alto Forward joins opposition to office-space limits: Citizens group joins Stanford, high-tech giants in taking a stand against proposal", 2015-02-26.
11. For example, in the Council meeting discussed in my blog entry "Listen for Yourself: An index into 'A Conversation on the Future of the City'" (2013-12-13), in the segment beginning at roughly 2:54 into the meeting.
12. Examples of discussions of downtowns. Summary: You want a large measure of order, but not too much. Palo Alto routinely violates this long-established, well-known principle going for "gateways" and "signature buildings" (euphemisms for buildings that are not just ugly, but stick out like a sore thumb).
â€¢ ==I "Remembering the Human Scale in Walkable City Neighborhoods"== - F. Kent Benfield, 2014-10-06. Interesting because he is an advocate for Smart Growth who contrasts what motivates the theory with what it produces.
â€¢ ==I "Why Do We Love Paris but Hate Frankfurt? A Swiss Author's Six Qualities of Beautiful Cities"== By Kristin Hohenadel - Slate, 2015-03-06. This cites a 14-minute video ==I "How to Make an Attractive City"== by The School of Life.
13. During the workshops in the 1990s on developing the current Comprehensive Plan, a number of design features that that encouraged and inhibited community were discussed. One example was the Eichler design which orients the living space toward the backyard, with its most prominent feature facing the street being the garage. Although this is commonly attributed to the "car culture" of the suburbs built in the 1950s and 1960s, there are many examples of similar developments in which houses faced the street and promoted much more interaction between neighbors. Palo Alto's building code has been changed to prohibit the "nose-out" garage, but I don't see it having been very effective--the narrowness of many lots doesn't leave enough room for the remainder of the house to have a real street-facing presence.
14. Starting points for people new to this problem:
â€¢ International interest: "Tech overkill destroyed the loveliest, liveliest city on the West Coast" by Adrian Weckler - Business News, The Independent, Ireland, 2015-09-20.
â€¢ Not just here: "'Amageddon': How Amazon's culture is taking a toll on Seattle's future" by Jeff Reifman (Guest Commentary) - GeekWire, 2014-11-19.
15. Local discussion often focuses on the startups that were huge successes, routinely ignoring that most startups are unadorned failures. The most common diagnosis I hear about the failures is "Lack of adult supervision", "key people were toxic", and management that "refused to understand how little they knew". I hear this both from those inside the startups and from those dealing with them, especially from Millennials about other Millennials. But part of this is imposed from above: One hears and reads VCs saying that they regard a successful entrepreneur as being inherently "difficult" (although usually using a less restrained euphemism).
16. The beginning of scientific research on this is credited to Roger Ulrich, and especially his research on outcomes for hospital patients (1972-1981) that found that those that had a view of greenery vs. a wall had faster recovery time and fewer complications. There had been numerous earlier studies involving animal proxies that had been highly suggestive of these results.
For more information, do web search on terms involving "human dimensions", "urban", "(green OR forest OR nature)".
17. For those who look for an economic expression of individual preferences and intuitions, a starting point for more web searches:
"New market for developers: homebuyers want view of woods, not large lawns", The University of Michigan press release, 2004-06-28. Note: Links to the research itself are broken, but it provides web search terms that produce related and subsequent work on this topic.
18. There are two basic (fallacious) arguments that single-family housing is racism:
(1) Only whites can afford single-family houses, and therefore single-family zoning is intended to exclude non-whites from those neighborhoods.
(2) The post-WW2 creation of suburbs was driven by whites seeking racially segregated neighborhoods. This ignores the reality that most of the urban areas that they were leaving were segregated by not just race, but by ethnicity, religion... and that those suburbs, while typically racially segregated, were much more diverse. For example, when I was an undergrad in the early 1970s, those of us from the suburbs and suburban-type towns were amazed that so many of the students from large cities were so insular and insulated. For example, many of the urban Jews and Italians were oblivious to northern Europeans having larger interpersonal distances. And those two groups often went to the same high school, but never mixed before college. It was students from the suburbs who were giving "diversity training" to many of those from the big cities. But never let it be said that ideologues let facts get in the way of their agendas, or of their need to feel superior (no matter how undeserved).
19. "'Get Rid of Single Family Zoning in Seattle' Housing Task Force Says in Draft Report" by Danny Westneat in Seattle Times, 2015-07-07.
20. A recent example of this perverse accounting is part of the email letter on AB 744 by Lydia Kou cited in an earlier footnote.
21. For example, "...I don't think that individuals that are over 55, and over 65, and over 75 always necessarily vote for what they really want. I think that they vote against change a lot because it's scary,..." from the Council meeting discussed in my blog entry "Listen for Yourself: An index into 'A Conversation on the Future of the City'" (2013-12-13), in the segment beginning at roughly 2:01 into the meeting.
22. "One Tweet Shows What Silicon Valley Really Thinks of the People It's Crushing", by Jack Smith IV, Tech.Mic, 2015-08-03.
23. For more discussion, see the section "Perks, Golden Handcuffs and plain Handcuffs" in my earlier blog entry "Should Palo Alto really aspire to be more like a Chinese factory city?" (2014-06-22).
An abbreviated index by topic and chronologically is available.
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