Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gumby Dharma. The real life of Gumby's creator Art Clokey.

Maps for HUD Social Engineers that want to make MARIN "racially harmonized"

Maps for HUD Social Engineers that want to make your community "racially harmonized"




Look at West Marin, where Steve Kinsey and the Green Mafia live, at 88% it is the "whitest of white" Marin County.

To HUD, County Planners and Politicians, community composition should be manipulated to for a "Racial Ideal".

Putting Bicycles Ahead of People


Putting Bicycles Ahead of People






LW0727_bikerules

This is a story of raw power, collusion and government corruption. A story that is taking place in countless towns all over America. A story of “reinvented” government, where self-proclaimed private “stakeholders” and pressure groups set the rules, local elected officials rubber stamp them, and non-elected regional governments enforce them, sometimes with an iron fist – all with no input from citizens, and apparently no rights for private citizens and property owners to stop them or even have a say.
It’s the story of the destruction of private property rights in America. Of injustice and tyranny. Of unaccountable government run amok. We need to take action! (See below, in blue, for what you can do.)

Jennie Granato is a tax-paying citizen of Montgomery County, Ohio. She and her family own a 165-year-old historic house and farm just outside of Dayton. They’ve lived there forty years. On July 31, Jennie’s front yard was demolished – thanks to local, county and planning commission bureaucrats!

The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) has begun seizing people’s private property for its latest “essential” project – a $5-million bike path extension! It has seized almost all of Jennie’s front lawn. The bike path will come within just a few feet of her front door!

Jennie and her family tried for over a year to negotiate and reason with this unelected planning commission. Unfortunately, their neighbors were advised by lawyers not to say anything publicly about the pending land grab, so the media viewed it as a non-story. The county and its appraisers kept stalling, saying they wanted a meeting with Jennie, even as they ignored her pleas and offered a pittance for taking her front yard, and likely driving the value of her home down by tens of thousands of dollars.

The meeting never came – and officials didn’t even allow Jennie’s uncle to speak at a hearing. But the bulldozers certainly came! Last week, with no warning, they just started demolishing trees. Jennie and her family still own the property – BUT the county has barged in, torn out their trees and destroyed their front yard! They will never be able to walk out their front door again, without worrying that they will be run over by bicyclists roaring by at 10 or 20 miles per hour, just inches from their bottom step.

The government trucks and bulldozers also precipitated an even worse tragedy. Jennie’s 85 year old mother became so upset over seeing the government’s heavy machinery destroying her yard and favorite trees that she suffered a heart attack and died.

Of course the government refuses to accept any responsibility for this tragedy. It was just promoting the “public welfare” of the private “stakeholders” and pressure groups it works with.

That too has become far too common. The government and these groups want more and more control over our lives, more power to tell us what we can and cannot do with our property and lives. But they accept no transparency and no accountability, responsibility or liability when their actions hurt … or even kill … someone – or when they destroy the property values, peace and integrity of a home.

The MVRPC is an unelected regional government force driven by federal Sustainable Development grant money. It never faces voters over its actions or positions of seemingly unbridled power. It simply deals with other government agencies – local, state and federal – and with private groups like the American Planning Association, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, and a hoard of other organizations that represent faux “conservation and environmental” interests whose real motivation is money, and the power to control our lives.


They are “stakeholders” only in the sense that they want something – and are holding the stakes that their government friends are driving through the heart of our constitutional rights.


With the assistance of Federal and State grant programs and willing politicians, who see another way to build their own power and get elected over and over, they rule over us like unaccountable dictators. It’s the same story in nearly every community in our nation.
Neither Jennie nor any of her neighbors voted to institute the agency or its policies.

* There was no vote for this bike path.
* There was no referendum on the ballot to approve this project or the spending of their tax dollars.

Yet the MVRPC imposed itself on privately owned property, giving the owner no say in the matter and giving her a pittance in exchange for the land it is taking away. Soon, strangers on bikes will be crossing her land, passing within seven feet of her front door. And she fears there is nothing she can do about it.

How does she secure her home? How can she ever hope to sell it? Who will compensate her for the loss of value, now that her once lovely and private front lawn is gone? Certainly not the MVRPC.

My American Policy Center has warned Americans over and over about the dangers of this fraud called “Sustainable Development” – and the enforcement of top-down control through non-elected boards and regional governments. Here is that reality, in all of its outrageous raw power.

Jennie’s neighbors, property rights activists and Tea Party leaders are joining forces to support her fight to stop this outrage. They have gathered at the property, to protest and take the issue to the news media – and will do so again. To its credit, the media are finally starting to notice what is happening. But if that is the extent of it, you know full well that these government officials will simply laugh, ignore the protests and news stories, wait for the attention to go away, and then grab someone else’s property.
That’s why concerned citizens across the nation need to join this fight and put power behind this effort to stop these bureaucrats from taking Jennie’s property. Freedom fighters need to build a huge protest fire and turn this into a national property rights issue.

Corrupt government officials use taxpayers as doormats, pawns, bank accounts and land holders for their agendas and power plays. If we continue doing nothing to stem the rising tide of government tyranny and corruption, we will watch our rights and property disappear, one by one.

Tom DeWeese is president of the American Policy Center and author of the book “Now Tell Me I Was Wrong.” www.americanpolicy.org. 
1
The “construction limits” stake in this photo is less than 5 ft from the front wall of the Granato home. The “essential” bike path is just a foot from the sign, where the front yard used to be.

2
Heavy equipment tearing out the trees in front of the Granato home.

3
The plastic shows where the bike path will go – right up to the bottom step of the Granato home.

4
The magnolia and other trees largely gone. This is where the crew stopped briefly after Jennie Granato’s mother died of a heart attack.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why are BAYONETS being distributed to local police departments?

MTC Executive Director rejoices for new Gas Taxes and User Fees.



Also see California Senator Hernandez cuts off debate before opposition speaks and then takes microphone away from dissenting Senator on minimum wage debate.

Fraud, Mismanagement and Budget Crises at the MTC

Daniel Borenstein: MTC commissioners allowing themselves to be misled on building costs

UPDATED:   12/20/2014 02:17:16 PM PST


The executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has once again deceived his board and the public about costs and financing for the agency's legally questionable real estate speculation.
At issue are misguided plans to use toll-bridge money for a new regional government center in downtown San Francisco housing MTC, Association of Bay Area Governments, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.
In 2011, MTC bought a 1942 building constructed by the Navy to provide assembly facilities for government projects. The $167 million project to purchase, gut and rehab the structure has ballooned 53 percent to $256 million. It won't be completed until December 2015, two years behind schedule.
Most cost increases haven't been due to unforeseeable expenses, but rather Executive Director Steve Heminger's failure to perform due diligence and include basic items in original estimates.
Three years ago, Heminger tried to ram through commission approval of the project without providing long-term finances, downside risks or assumptions essential for putting the deal together.
After criticism of the deal in this column, Heminger finally provided an analysis purportedly showing the bridge toll money for the project would be recouped over 30 years.
But the state auditor later concluded MTC used improper accounting methods that hid a $30 million shortfall. The auditor also chastised MTC for failing to disclose the risk and revealed that the chief financial officer withheld from the commission his own calculation showing the agency would not be able to repay the bridge toll money as promised.
In 2013, building costs jumped $56 million, due to design changes, seismic safety cost increases, and furniture, fixtures and equipment that were inexplicably omitted from original estimates.
Last month, costs jumped another $33 million. We learned that construction had been severely delayed because contractors had to work around a tenant, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which has yet to vacate its top-floor lab. It turns out that MTC bought the property without assurances all the tenants would move out.
The project also had already blown through its $18 million contingency budget and other costs had ballooned.
Heminger's latest deception comes when he explains how he plans to cover the latest cost overrun. Previously, MTC had committed $149 million of bridge toll money for the project. Heminger insists no more bridge toll money will be used.
Instead, he explains using masterful hairsplitting, the new money will come from savings the agency derived from refinancing bonds. But money paying those bonds derives from a pot with two sources, state funds in this case and bridge tolls.
In other words, if not for the latest overruns, savings from the bond refinancing could have gone

Metropolitan Transportation Commission should fire its prima donna director (The Story Marin IJ didn't Publish)

Steve Hemminger "splaining himself" at a press conference over the Bay Bridge cost overruns.

Contra Costa Times editorial: Metropolitan Transportation Commission should fire its prima donna director

Contra Costa Times editorial © 2014 Bay Area News Group
POSTED:   12/27/2014 04:00:00 PM PST1 COMMENT



The Metropolitan Transportation Commission should fire its chief prima donna.
Whether it's the Bay Bridge, empire-building real estate speculation or self-indulgent travel, Executive Director Steve Heminger shows disregard for the public purse. To him, it seems, cost is no object and the ends justify the means.

Commissioner Steve Kinsey, a Marin County supervisor, assessed the fallout. "We're ending up as a kind of a prima donna agency in the eyes of the public," he said. "We're acting in ways that appear to be indifferent to the economic realities and the frustrations of the traveling public."

While Heminger officially reports to a board, in practice it's often flipped. The commissioners, mostly city or county representatives, worry first about securing money for their locales, which requires remaining in Heminger's good graces. After 14 years running MTC, Heminger has become the regional transportation czar.

In three years, he flew to conferences in Tokyo, Sydney, Beijing and Vienna using air tickets costing more than $45,000, Bloomberg reported. MTC rules require travel by the most economical means, but Heminger ignores them.

His $13,000 Sydney flight was eight times the price of a coach ticket. His bill for international trips surpassed leaders of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago transportation agencies. Those officials took a combined five trips in the same time.

Meanwhile, Heminger continues deceiving the public about his real estate deal that's using bridge toll money to gut and refurbish a San Francisco building for MTC, Association of Bay Area Governments, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.It was a bad idea from the onset, before the $167 million project ballooned 53 percent to $256 million. Heminger didn't do basic due diligence. The state auditor slammed MTC for its bogus accounting. The state Legislature's attorney questioned the legality of using bridge tolls for it.

As for the new bridge span, Heminger leads the oversight committee created in 2005 to protect toll and taxpayers' interests. But he has often been an ill-informed defender of Caltrans, claiming technical expertise he lacks and spending excessively.

The Sacramento Bee reports that bridge officials paid hundreds of millions of dollars to speed up work slowed down by contractors' own blunders. "We have traded money for time," Heminger claims. "We never once traded quality for time."

After broken bolts, hundreds of cracked welds, road deck leaks and weakened steel tendons inside concrete, does anyone seriously believe we got top-quality construction?
We need a cost-conscious official running MTC, not an imperial one. It's time for commissioners to act.


The Bridge So Far- A legacy of Corruption, Incompetence at the MTC

Imagine if you went over budget by 5 billion dollars on a project. Would you win raises and get to keep your job?

Steve Hemminger was in charge of the 25+ years of repairs at the Bay Bridge.  Be sure to watch at 22:00 where he admits that top executives overseeing bridge contracts had business interests in companies bidding on projects.  

He defends those executives and says there was no undue influence in the process.

He still has he job and is now in charge of another major scandal in the purchase and remodeling of MTC/ABAG headquarters where there is $300 million dollars in "accounting irregularities".

Steve Kinsey, Marin Supervisor serves in the oversight of MTC and Mr. Hemminger. Why does Steve keep his job?





Who is Steve Heminger, who hid $30 million dollars in construction costs for the MTC headquarters?




Steve Heminger, Executive Director of the MTC explains the Bay Bridge $400 million dollar cost overruns

Related Articles:

"Why MTC should fire it's Prima Donna Director" HERE
"Fraud, Waste and Mismanagement at the MTC" HERE

Editor's Note: The Marin IJ is the only newspaper in 

the Bay Area Newsgroup newspaper chain 

(includes The Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News)


that did not publish news about this explosive scandal at MTC. 

Why?


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Get rid of single-family zoning? These conversations shouldn’t be secret

Danny Westneat

Get rid of single-family zoning? These conversations shouldn’t be secret

Originally published July 7, 2015 at 1:21 pm Updated July 8, 2015 at 11:29 am
Seattle’s single-family zoning code has long been a defining feature of the city’s character. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times, 2013)


A draft of the work of the Seattle mayor’s housing task force includes a big surprise: They have talked of doing away with the city’s single-family zoning.

For all the construction cranes around town, the issue of growth and development has been surprisingly quiet in the Seattle elections this summer.

Seems like that might be about to change.

Tuesday, I got my hands on the draft policy ideas that Mayor Ed Murray’s advisory committee on housing is working on. And they are some of the most sweeping changes in the way Seattle lives and grows ever proposed around here.

Most dramatically, the committee is considering a recommendation to do away with single-family zoning — which for a hundred-plus years has been the defining feature of Seattle’s strong neighborhood feel.

“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.

The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”

The committee of citizen volunteers voted 19-3 to recommend replacing single-family zoning with a “lower density residential zone” that would allow duplexes, triplexes, rooming houses and more backyard cottages and mother-in-law units in areas now dominated by single houses on lots with a yards. It’s unclear how much of the city this would include.

Later, the committee co-chairs issued a statement saying the group “has no intention of recommending the elimination of all single family zones in the city.” But the draft report suggests the committee was considering exactly that.

“In fact, (the committee) recommends we abandon the term ‘single family zone,’ ” the draft reads.

An overview letter calls for higher density essentially everywhere in the city.

“More 6-story buildings where there were 4 stories before, more 7-story buildings where there were 6-stories before, and more multifamily housing of all types in areas currently zoned for less density inside (neighborhoods designated as) Urban Villages,” the letter says.

The draft says the changes are necessary because “we are currently confronted by the reality of more dollars chasing a limited supply of housing than ever before in our history.”

The draft report is a recent working copy of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Advisory Committee. It is certain to undergo changes as the committee tries to reach a Monday, July 13, deadline for a final report.

“My co-chair and I are very disappointed that you and The Seattle Times have chosen to undermine the efforts of the HALA, a citizen advisory group, by prematurely releasing an unapproved draft of our report,” Faith Pettis and David Wertheimer, the co-chairs, wrote in an emailed statement.

I elected to publish it anyway because I have always felt these advisory committees on crucial topics facing the city should be open to the public, not conducted in secret.

That said, it is just a draft, and it’s only an advisory committee. There’s no guarantee any of this will become law. In fact, the City Council on Monday put some restrictions on projects in low-rise multifamily zones, a vote in the opposite direction of encouraging more density that this report is advocating.

But the report provides a window into the thinking of a group that has spent 10 months grappling with one of the toughest issues for Seattle government — how to grow and prosper without wrecking the city’s neighborhood soul, or, in turn, becoming an enclave only for the rich.

“The politics of the issues appear almost intractable,” the co-chair letter said.

A proposal to undo the city’s recent restrictions on “apodment” type micro-housing developments split the committee by a 17-10 vote. Pettis said that wasn’t enough of a consensus.

Similarly, a proposal to study some ideas for rent control split the committee by a 13-11 vote — again, not enough of a consensus.

The committee split 16-9 on the idea of creating a “linkage fee” assessment on new construction, with the money raised to go to subsidized housing. A spokesman for the mayor’s office said the committee is still working on this issue.

The City Council also is likely to continue to explore this idea, whether the committee recommends it or not.

The broader thinking spelled out in the draft report is that Seattle has a higher percentage of land dedicated to detached single-family homes than other big cities. This constricts our ability to accommodate the rising population and job growth.

But the city also did a recent survey of developable land in Seattle and found there’s enough capacity under current zoning to add 224,000 housing units — 73 percent more than the current stock of 308,000.

The final scheduled meeting of the advisory committee is Wednesday. It is not open to the public.

Pettis said she knows the notion of changing single-family zoning is going to be a hot button.

“I grew up here, I love and believe in the neighborhoods,” she said. “But for this city to be affordable to a diverse variety of people, we simply need to build more.”


[Editor's Note:  I include this article about Seattle housing because it parallels the talk in the pro Development Marin County Civic Center.  So called "Smart Growth" is the new religion of planners and politicians.  They all subscribe to the same basic tenets of high density growth, public transportation and pathological ignorance of the long term infrastructure needs of the community.  Plan Bay Area is the articulation of the "Smart Growth Vision".    Every area of the county claims that more housing means economic growth and huge growth is coming to their metropolis.  It cannot be true everywhere.  The sad part of this planning FAD is that the aftermath will leave our communities less livable and with less "room to breath" .  What happened to "Small, beautiful and livable communities?"]

Mexican laborer Responds to Donald Trump's Bigoted Comments

DEAR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN FANCY TINY HOUSES

DEAR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN FANCY TINY HOUSES

Do you ever wake up wondering, “I’ve made a huge mistake?
source- Tiny: A Story About Living Small
Dear People Who Live in Fancy Tiny Houses…
Do you actually love living in a fancy tiny house*?
You look so freakin’ happy in that Dwell Magazine article or Buzzfeed post, but c’mon, you can’t tell me that you don’t lie awake at night, your face four inches from the ceiling because the only place your bed fits is above the kitchen sink which also acts as your shower, and think, I’ve made a terrible mistake.
source- Treehugger
Look, I’m not criticizing you. I commend you for making this giant leap. Since we humans seem comfortable with pillaging Mother Earth of all her resources, I believe more people should think like you. But 250 square feet? What the hell happens when your tiny house partner farts Mexican food farts, huh? Where do you escape to? Nowhere. You have nowhere to run. All you can do is walk three feet to the other end of the house and pray.
Or maybe you can run out into the tiny forest surrounding your tiny house.
I f’ing love the idea of downsizing and living a “simple life,” but seriously, where do you put your shit? You still have some clothing and shoes and towels and all that jazz, right? Or do you just wear overalls now? Overalls and Birkenstocks and one towel that you share with your entire family. Where do you wash that towel, hmm? Do you have a tiny river that runs behind your tiny house? I bet you do. I bet your whole Goddamn property is whimsical.
And I know your house isn’t that clean all of the time. In your pictures, it looks like you only own a tiny sofa, several throw blankets & pillow, one cooking pan, one antique book and one framed photo of you laughing in front of your tiny house.
source- FYI.TV
Hey. Do you have privacy in your tiny house?
God damn, I have so many questions.
What if you’re having a shitty day and you just want to be alone? You can’t be alone, right? Because your partner or children are sitting two to ten feet aways from you at all times. Don’t you feel like a rat trapped in a cage? Don’t you ever want to turn toward your lover or spawn and shout, “Get out! Get out of my tiny house!”
What about sexy time, huh? There is no f’ing way your kids aren’t hearing that shit. If you’re boinking four feet from your offspring, they might grow up to hate tiny things and end up building a McMansion with ten empty bedrooms just to spite you. Each bedroom will represent their years of loss innocence.
And your poor teenage children. What happens if they need sexy time? They go through puberty. They need the sex.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SEXY TIME?!?
Some of you tiny house dwellers don’t even have beds! WHERE IS THE BED?!
source- HGTV; photo byDaniel Sokol
Even the dog is like, “Where the fuck is the bed, guys?”
What about guests? Where do you put your guests? Can friends and family even visit you? Do you have friends and family? ANSWER ME! Are people now afraid of you?
“Honey, want to go visit Petal & Ralph out in their 250-square-foot house this weekend?”
“Are you shitting me? That place smells like a hot box of Mexican food farts.”
Guys, you know when the zombie apocalypse comes you’re going to be the first to go, right? Four zombies could pick up and shake your tiny house like a Smart Car. Your bodies will be flinging out the windows like hornets shaken from a nest. You’re only going to have that one cooking pan and farts to save yourself.
Be honest: You just want to live out your life like a Wes Anderson character, don’t you? You want to be some eccentric full of whimsy who doesn’t need modern tools or resources to live a fulfilling life. Well, good for you and your small abode. I hope you’re happy and that all my questions and concerns are just the ramblings of a jealous woman who wants a tiny house of her own.
All the best,
Lauren
*This post is half in jest. I actually do commend people who can live this life, but I am curious if it’s all peaches and cream like the swanky design magazines suggest. I do believe that overpopulation of the Earth is a problem, so downsizing seems like a great option. I also think these tiny houses are a great dwelling alternative for homeless individuals.
Originally appeared on my blog, Hipstercrite.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The ‘Affordable Housing’ Bait and Switch, California Style

The ‘Affordable Housing’ Bait and Switch, California Style

Redefining language to arrive at anti-market solutions to government-exacerbated problems

Trigger warning: Song contains "Mexicans," "homosexuals," and "idle rich." ||| Scott Timberg, a journalist whose work I enjoy, has a much-discussed piece out in Los Angelesmagazine about coming to the realization that prices and economic realities are squeezing him out of his beloved L.A. It's a personal essay about status-backsliding, so it may seem unsporting to use it as a jumping-off point to talk about related policy concerns, but there are important government failures contributing to Timberg's ennui that really deserve more attention than they typically receive from Southern California's political class.
The first has to do with one of the most abused phrases in the political lexicon, affordable housing. Sample from Timberg's essay:
For many of us in Los Angeles—a metropolitan area that 57 percent of Angelenos can't afford to live in, according to a recent study—this is a city from which we are constantly on the brink of slipping away. Average rent in L.A. is $2,550 for a two-bedroom apartment. In fact, the disparity between wages and market prices here is the worst in the country, nastier than in New York City or the Bay Area, and it's become the toughest American city in which to buy a house.
My eyes hurt. ||| Bolding mine, to highlight what has become an absurd anti-tautology. Which is to say, on some basic level, if you live in a city, you can by definition afford to live in a city, because you are successfully, um, living in the city (that is, if you are still making rent or mortgage payments, and not sliding into bankruptcy or extreme indebtedness....Timberg's status on those fronts is vague aside from his ominous statement that "I lost my house in 2011"). You might be paying a disproportionate amount of your income on housing compared to people in other cities, and that's an important consideration (on which more below), but the word "affordable" in this case is a value judgment affixed by agenda-wielding outsiders to the individual choices of participants on the ground.
The source of that 57 percent "unaffordable" number is the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), whoselengthy presentation of the underlying data includes this verbiage:
Over the past several years, as congressional inaction has led to continued erosion in the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage, a substantial number of states and cities have enacted higher minimum-wage laws. These increases, while not eliminating the need for a higher national wage floor, do help to ensure that regular employment provides the means to achieve a decent quality of life. Cities, in particular, that have raised local minimums have often done so in explicit recognition that higher costs of living in those areas require higher wage standards so that workers there can still meet their basic needs.
This explicit advocacy does not mean EPI's data is suspect, but there's an agenda here, and a whole lot of assumptions and choices built into the research. For instance, while the group boasts of adjusting its EPI Family Budget Calculator to reflect the cost-of-living disparities "in over 600 specific U.S. communities," using the actual tool shows exactly one such community within L.A. County, the "Los Angeles-Long Beach CA HUD Metro FMR Area." Given that L.A. County has 88 municipalities and 10 million residents, and an immense geographical spread in average home listing prices—between $9,175,930 for Bel Air and $126,307 for Palmdale, with more than 100 different zip codes currently clocking in at under a half-million dollars—standardizing affordability conclusions across those 10 million individuals strikes me as less than fully sound.
You can get more tailored geographical income/housing data at the L.A. Times and Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, both of which come to pretty grim conclusions about Southern California's priceyness. For instance,
Just about half (49.8 percent) of all households in metro LA spend more than the recommended 30 percent of income on rent or mortgage payments and more than a quarter (25.9 percent) are spending at least half their income
Bolding in original. That's certainly a big number, and part of the reason that Southern California's population is no longer growing, after more than a century of constant boom. But do those facts really merit headlines such as "Every Single Part of LA is Unaffordable at $13.25 an Hour," or (my favorite) "A full-time minimum-wage job won't get you a 1-bedroom apartment anywhere in America"? No, it doesn't. A full time minimum wage job in California nets you $1,440 a month; I just found a one-bedroom in Los Angeles on Apartments.com for $350, and I hear there arecheaper cities in the state. Also, the word "affordable" does not equal "costing less than the recommended 30 percent of income," no matter how many times people repeat that claim.
For instance, according to the authors of those headlines and studies, I could not "afford" to live in Los Angeles between 1998 and 2005, even with rents that never eclipsed $1,400. And yet, somehow, I did. At different stages of your life, you are willing to bet on spending higher percentages of your income for the privilege of living in an advantageous area, just as sometimes you will accept a low wage in exchange for near-term upside. A crucial part of those bets is the belief that more lucrative income opportunities lie just around the corner. Maybe, for example, you have heard of a little thing called the California Dream?
In my experience, the people most likely to expand the definition of "unaffordable housing" are maddeningly unable to tell you how many affordable units there are out there. They tend to, without any noticeable sense of self-awareness, have the most political clout precisely in polities that are the most expensive to live in. They are also the most likely to push for three specific proposals to address the situation: raising the minimum wage, stabilizing or controlling rents, and requiring real estate developers to build lower-income units in new buildings. Each of these are attempts toadvance social policy by restricting the behavior of businesses, rather than removing governmental constraints on the private-sector supply of housing.
There are other policy failures contributing to the predicaments identified and lamented by Timberg. For example:
It's no surprise that when you have kids, making the pieces fit is especially difficult, as novelist Katharine Noel puts it. She wrote in a corner of her Los Feliz living room while her husband, Eric Puchner, also a writer, toiled in a corner of the bedroom. They spent four to six hours a week commuting to their teaching jobs in Claremont, concluding that they would not ever be able to buy in a decent school district for their two kids
Bolding mine. The lack of quality Los Angeles Unified School District schools in neighborhoods more affordable than Los Feliz (where my wife and I, too, both worked at home in a small apartment) is an ongoing public-policy outrage, largely perpetuated by the existing political class (with some notable exceptions). Though it's also true that the type of people attracted to Los Feliz generally wouldn't be caught dead buying a house in the presumably better-schooled (and considerably more affordable) Claremont. At any rate, bad schools are a brake particularly on the lives of the children sentenced to them, and should inflame the passions of good citizens above and beyond their own neighborhood anxieties.
Underlying everything in both Timberg's piece and the wage/housing disparity he describes, is the economy:
Los Angeles and California were hit especially hard by the Great Recession, and the damage lingered longer than almost anywhere else. L.A. County's unemployment rate was up around 12 and 13 percent for years, and along the way hundreds of thousands dropped out of the labor force entirely.
Huh. And whatexactly, made California so different?
I wish Scott Timberg the best, and recommend his writing to future employers. And I hope California adopts policies that will make housing more affordable by explicitly rejecting the wishlist of its "affordable housing" advocates.