Saturday, July 18, 2015

Metallica rock star plans 34-unit Lucas Valley subdivision from February 17, 2011




Metallica rock star James Hetfield, who two years ago stirred controversy by erecting a fence blocking a popular trail that cut across his 600-acre Rocking H 2 Ranch, wants to subdivide the lower part of his Lucas Valley property to provide 34 home sites.
Hetfield, who has dedicated 330 acres of the ranch at higher elevations to the Marin County Open Space District, seeks to cluster 27 homes on acre lots on the lower portion as allowed by zoning — while remaining eligible for seven more residences governed by low- and moderate-income housing regulations.
[ Supervisors have placed an "affordable housing overlay district" on his property making it available for high density affordable housing at 30 units per acre.  The site sits across the road from Grady Ranch]
READ MORE HERE


Governor Brown wants to Reduce Gas consumption by 50%

Gov. Brown Talks To KCAL9 About Bill That Would Mandate Reduction In Gas Usage

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Dave Bryan joined the KCAL9 news team in March, 1994, after ha...
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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As Gov. Jerry Brown prepares to travel to Rome next week for an international climate conference, the debate over a bill aimed at reducing gas usage in California is heating up.
Brown fully supports SB-350, which would mandate a 50-percent cutback in California’s gas usage in the next 15 years, arguing that it’s a prime factor in global warming.
“We’ve got a serious problem here,” he told KCAL9 Political Reporter Dave Bryan via satellite. “Burning oil and gas and coal and diesel is a big part of the problem. We’ve got to find new bio-fuels. We have to be more efficient. We’ve got a lot to do. And by the way, if we do nothing, the cost is unimaginable.”
“We think this is reckless legislation and one that people certainly need to be aware of because it’ll impact every single motorist in the state of California,” Tupper Hull of the Western States Petroleum Association said via Skype.
Critics charge the bill provides no specific plan to achieve the massive cutback in gas usage. That would be left up to the California Air Resources Board, which those critics, like the oil industry say, would have no limits on what it could mandate.
The impact on Californians, they argue, could be devastating.
“What are they supposed to do to get to work? To get their kids to school?” asked Hull. “What is supposed to replace all of this gasoline and diesel that’s gonna be taken out of the system?”
“Well, of course, the people who are gonna sell 50 percent less petroleum are not only gonna have questions, they’re gonna have a fierce, unrelenting opposition. So, let’s be clear about that,” said Brown.
Cutting gas consumption in half, though, may be especially difficult in the Los Angeles area, where sitting in traffic jams is a long hated ritual and the rapid transit system is still decades away from being a truly comprehensive regional people mover, like New York or Chicago have.
While the oil industry have been leading the charge and criticizing the bill, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, a Democrat from West Covina, was quoted in The Los Angeles Times as questioning whether an appointed board should be making the rules for cutting gas consumption, charging the bill would give them a blank check of unregulated and unlimited power over the lives of Californians.
In an interview, Brown asked in response: who do you want regulating the consumption? The oil companies?
“You saw what they did and what? Did gasoline go up 80 cents in the last week? Who’s regulating that? Well, the companies were. So, you can have a company regulate or you can have an agency of government,” Brown said, adding: “You need an authority within government to set the conditions of survivability.”
The bill appears to be well on its way to passage having already cleared the state Senate and some Assembly committees, but the debate over how to cut in half California’s dependency on gas by 2030 is possib

Friday, July 17, 2015

‘Smart Cities’ Will Know Everything About You

‘Smart Cities’ Will Know Everything About You


How can marketers cash in without becoming enemies of the people?  [Editor's Note: They Can't.]

By
MIKE WESTONJuly 12, 2015 6:36 p.m. ET
61 COMMENTS

From Boston to Beijing, municipalities and governments across the world are pledging billions to create “smart cities”—urban areas covered with Internet-connected devices that control citywide systems, such as transit, and collect data. Although the details can vary, the basic goal is to create super-efficient infrastructure, aid urban planning and improve the well-being of the populace.

A byproduct of a tech utopia will be a prodigious amount of data collected on the inhabitants. For instance, at the company I head, we recently undertook an experiment in which some staff volunteered to wear devices around the clock for 10 days. We monitored more than 170 metrics reflecting their daily habits and preferences—including how they slept, where they traveled and how they felt (a fast heart rate and no movement can indicate excitement or stress).

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

If the Internet age has taught us anything, it’s that where there is information, there is money to be made. With so much personal information available and countless ways to use it, businesses and authorities will be faced with a number of ethical questions.

In a fully “smart” city, every movement an individual makes can be tracked. The data will reveal where she works, how she commutes, her shopping habits, places she visits and her proximity to other people. You could argue that this sort of tracking already exists via various apps and on social-media platforms, or is held by public-transport companies and e-commerce sites. The difference is that with a smart city this data will be centralized and easy to access. Given the value of this data, it’s conceivable that municipalities or private businesses that pay to create a smart city will seek to recoup their expenses by selling it.

By analyzing this information using data-science techniques, a company could learn not only the day-to-day routine of an individual but also his preferences, behavior and emotional state. Private companies could know more about people than they know about themselves.

For marketers, this is a dream come true. Imagine the scenario: A beverage company knows a particular individual’s Friday or Saturday night routine. The company knows what he drinks, when he drinks, who he drinks with and where he goes. It also knows how the weather affects what beverage the individual chooses and how changes in work patterns influence how much alcohol he consumes. By combining this information with the individual’s social-media profile, the company could send marketing messages to the person when he is most susceptible to the suggestion to buy a drink.

Businesses could market divorce services to couples who, through data analysis, are shown to exhibit behavior that indicates that their relationship could be in trouble—things like unusual travel patterns, and changes in work-life balance, such as a rapid increase in the amount of time both individuals spend at work or in separate bars. Individuals who are shown to lead very unhealthy lifestyles could be deliberately targeted by brands selling fatty foods.

The scenarios are endless, ranging from the genuinely useful to the potentially terrifying. But what will moderate how a smart city works and how brands can use data?

Recent history—issues of privacy and security on social networks and chatting apps, and questions about how intellectual-property regulations apply online—has shown that the law has been slow to catch up with digital innovations. So businesses that can purchase smart-city data will be presented with many strategic and ethical concerns.

What degree of targeting is too specific and violates privacy? Should businesses limit the types of goods or services they offer to certain individuals? Is it ethical for data—on an employee’s eating habits, for instance—to be sold to employers or to insurance companies to help them assess claims? Do individuals own their own personal data once it enters the smart-city system?

With or without stringent controlling legislation, businesses in a smart city will need to craft their own policies and procedures regarding the use of data. A large-scale misuse of personal data could provoke a consumer backlash that could cripple a company’s reputation and lead to monster lawsuits. An additional problem is that businesses won’t know which individuals might welcome the convenience of targeted advertising and which will find it creepy—although data science could solve this equation eventually by predicting where each individual’s privacy line is.

A smart city doesn’t have to be as Orwellian as it sounds. If businesses act responsibly, there is no reason why what sounds intrusive in the abstract can’t revolutionize the way people live for the better by offering services that anticipates their needs; by designing ultraefficient infrastructure that makes commuting a (relative) dream; or with a revolutionary approach to how energy is generated and used by businesses and the populace at large.

Mr. Weston is the CEO of the London- and Dubai-based data-science consultancy 
Profusion.
What possibly can go wrong concentrating power with a few elites and a strong government? 

Look Out Marin! Single Family Neighborhoods are under Attack.

A developer and housing task-force member sells the ‘upzoning’ of Seattle



That housing committee really did call to upzone all single-family zoning in Seattle. One of the architects of the plan explains and defends it.


When Mayor Ed Murray announced Monday that he was endorsing all the proposals of his housing affordability committee, he took great pains to say it wouldn’t cause much change in Seattle’s single-family-zoned neighborhoods after all.

For special emphasis, he said this twice.

“I’m going to say this again, because there’s been a little fun out there about us plowing under every single-family neighborhood,” Murray said. “Under our plan, 94 percent of existing single-family neighborhoods will see no upzones.”

That’s a strong statement, but is it true? The reliability of a talking point is usually inversely related to the number of times a politician repeats it. So I decided to just ask a member of the Housing Affordabily and Livability committee to walk me through the facts.

The first thing architect David Neiman said when I got him on the phone wasn’t exactly aligned with the mayor’s spin.



“I think the mayor was trying to do some messaging there,” Neiman said. “The rules definitely would change in all the single-family zones in Seattle.”

If approved, the new rules would cover the entire city and would, Neiman said, be an upzone to all single-family lots in Seattle.

Neiman is a developer who strongly backs the housing committee’s final report. He also lives in my neighborhood, Madrona, which like many of the lower-density parts of Seattle has houses on 5,000-square-foot lots centered on a commercial district with some apartment buildings.

He said a way to visualize the proposal for Seattle’s single-family zones is this: It effectively triples the density of development allowed today, while retaining the same housing bulk and lot coverage limitations.

“So you could take a lot where you are currently able to build one home, and you could slice it into three units,” Neiman says. “That could be three free-standing small homes, or one building divided into three flats, or three row houses, or three condos.”

You wouldn’t have to build any of these things. But the economics of the change likely would spur redevelopment across many single-family zoned parts of the city.

Neiman sketched out the upzone this way: Imagine a small $400,000 Seattle bungalow in, say, West Seattle. Under current boomtown conditions, that house is a candidate to be torn down and replaced by a new home, priced at $1 million plus.

With the changes, a developer could raze the bungalow and instead build three smaller homes or condos in a triplex building, with a goal of selling each for, say, $600,000, Neiman said. Suddenly the $1 million plus project is a $1.8 million project, with roughly similar construction costs.

“When you can put three units there instead of one, it’s got a lot more juice to it,” Neiman said.

This juicing would likely cause widespread redevelopment of lower-priced single family home stock over time. The wealthier single family areas would be more likely to remain unchanged.

“You’re probably not going to see a string of triplexes going up in Broadmoor,” he said.

People could hold onto their bungalows as long as they please, or even build new ones. But many of Seattle’s smaller and older houses would make way for higher-density development.

That’s the whole point of that part of the housing plan, Neiman said — to spur development in single-family zones. The goal is to densify without trampling the leafy neighborhood feel. But, “it’s enough of an upzone that the committee talked about trying to get something back for it,” such as a payment into an affordable-housing fund whenever a property is redeveloped at the higher zoning, Neiman said.
Messaging all this, or whatever we’re calling what the mayor did, seems to me to be a poor way to start a citywide conversation on some of the biggest zoning changes proposed in Seattle in our lifetimes.

So thanks go to Neiman for laying it all out there, unvarnished. I’m already on record that I think it’s an overreaction to upzone the entire city, especially until we get better infrastructure to handle the growth. Plus: save the bungalows!

But Neiman earned the last word. I asked him: Why is this a good idea?

“You and I couldn’t afford to live in our own neighborhood if we moved to Seattle now,” he said. “Right? So without some redeveloping, we’re simply closing the door behind us.


“This does mean we’re going to lose some of the old Seattle fabric, some of the bungalows. But we’ll create a new fabric. This city has to change or else we’re going to be a city only for the very rich and the very poor.

“I came to the conclusion that sitting there with your arms folded is not a reasonable response anymore.”


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Crony Builders to Sacramento. Give us Government Funding, We'll fix Housing or else!


Break the logjam on affordable housing



By Michael Strech

California’s building industry is in the business of creating opportunity. So with headlines from San Diego to Sacramento screaming that housing prices are out of reach for most families, we can’t wait to get to work to build more safe and affordable places to live.

The production of 1.5 million homes needed to meet demand is a massive undertaking, and will require collaboration between private industry, and federal, state and local governments. Across the state, shovel-ready projects are poised to break ground, but construction has ground to a halt on thousands of affordable homes because state financing has dried up. [From the Taxpayers!]


A package of bills spearheaded by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins seeks to stitch all the components together. Assembly Bill 35 would expand the state’s annual Low Income Housing Tax Credit by $300 million, drawing twice that amount of new federal investment. AB 1335 would generate as much as $500 million in state funding, which would, in turn, leverage another $2.8 billion in federal money. The $500 million dedicated fund would come from a $75 recording fee on certain real estate documents, excluding home and commercial property sales.

According to a March report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the high cost of homes forces people to spend much more of their income on housing, puts homeownership out of reach for many and forces people to live in crowded housing and commute further to their jobs – all of which makes California a less desirable place to live. That in turn makes it more difficult for companies to hire and retain qualified employees, which ultimately drags down California’s economic potential. 


[Few people "aspire" to live in government subsidized apartments.  The writer assumes all homes are equal and only proximity to work is important.  This is definitely not true. How many Silicon Valley engineers want their family in cramped apartments by a freeway?]

Increasing the state’s investment in affordable housing will also create jobs, an estimated 29,000 for every $500 million. Our economy could see an immediate boost as soon as these developments get underway. Business organizations across the state – including the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Orange County Business Council and Los Angeles Business Council – have all called for increased state investment in affordable homes.

The bills would revive the market for affordable homes that has essentially dried up since the elimination of redevelopment agencies, which were crucial to local government’s ability to support affordable construction.

California’s sophisticated public-private model provides stable, affordable places to live and creates well-paying jobs, but without state investment, this successful model won’t work.

Just as we have decided that tax deductions for mortgages and federal backing of home loans expands economic opportunity, so does state investment in affordable housing. If we make the right choices, our economy will be a huge winner.


[Affordable housing is a development scheme to shift development and taxes onto local municipalities and taxpayers.  These communities are straining under massive taxation already.  Just say "NO" to laws to fatten crony developers]

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article19902279.html#storylink=cpy

Marin County Supervisors Will Soon Reveal Their Regard For Marin's Traditional Character: Please attend next Tuesday, July 21st meeting

Marin County Supervisors Will Soon Reveal Their Regard For Marin's Traditional Character:
Please attend the July 21st Board of Supervisor Hearing re: amending the Affordable Housing Combining District and send in letters!



The 1,200-acre Silveira-St. Vincent’s tract in northern San Rafael is among several areas designated for potential high-density affordable housing. (IJ file photo) 

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

Last month, the Marin County Planning Commission rejected a proposed County Development Code amendment designed by the Supervisors to lower the density of sites designated with the “Affordable Housing Combining District” (AH District) zone from 30 units per acre to 20 units per acre, as allowed by a new state law (AB 1537) embraced by the Supervisors. On July 21st the Supervisors will take up where the Commission left off and decide the fate of the proposal.

The AH District currently applies to portions of three sites in Unincorporated Marin: two sites identified in the 2015 to 2023 Marin County Housing Element, the St. Vincent’s / Silveira site and the Drake Ave. site in Marin City, and, in addition, the Golden Gate Seminary site in Strawberry.

Remember Assembly Bill 1537 that Mark Levine and the Supervisors fought so hard for? The bill lowered the default density for housing sites identified for lower income households in Marin County's Housing Element from the "Metropolitan" density of 30 units per acre to the "Suburban" density of 20 units per acre. If the Supervisors agree with the Planning Commission’s decision, then any benefit from AB 1537 would be killed. By not lowering the density at the housing element sites identified in the 2015 to 2023 Housing Element, the sites remain zoned for the Metropolitan density of 30 units per acre.

Yet, the current proposal to lower the density at the sites would NOT lower the number of units allowed to be built at the sites. "What?" The draft amendment proposes to lower the density to 20 units per acre and at the same time INCREASE the number of acres where the units could be built, thus keeping the potential number of units that could be built at the sites, the same number.

This makes us scratch our heads and wonder... Do the Supervisors truly want to lower potential density of affordable housing to 20 units per acre to keep Marin's traditional character and lower potential adverse environmental impacts from high-density housing?

Moreover, as originally written, the AH District was designed to only apply to sites identified in a Housing Element. The Golden Gate Seminary site was removed from the 2015 to 2023 Marin County Housing Element and therefore, the AH District should no longer apply to the site. Yet, the County is now changing the rules to extend the reach of the high-density AH District and apply the designation to the Seminary site too.  Is a site near you next?

If the County and the Supervisors truly want to maintain Marin’s traditional character and lower potential adverse environmental impacts from high-density housing, then, at minimum, they should lower the density of the AH District from 30 units to 20 units per acre and NOT increase the area of the sites where the AH District is applied.  Moreover, by lowering the density at Housing Element sites, Marin County would be able to show the California State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) that the County can provide affordable housing at lower densities.  Such a history would help Marin County officials renew Assembly Bill 1537 when it expires.  They should then make similar changes to all the other County zoning that allows for 30 units per acre.

It is questionable whether or not 20 units per acre is low enough to qualify for the traditional semi rural character of most of Marin County. All concerned should remember that if the State Density Bonus were applied to a site, then the applicable residential density would be increased by up to 35%. As such, the Density Bonus could increase 30 units per acre to 40 units per acre (equal to the density of the Tamal Vista Apartments at the WinCup site in Corte Madera) and increase 20 units per acre to 27 units per acre.

We will soon learn the Supervisors' thoughts regarding this matter.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing regarding the Development Code Amendment for the Affordable Housing Combining District on Tuesday, July 21st at 1:30 pm at the Civic Center. Please send comments beforehand to the Board of Supervisors -bos@marincounty.org
ksears@marincounty.org

Please read the attached letter from Sustainable TamAlmonte to the Supervisors regarding this issue.  If you don't have time to write your own letter and you agree with ours, then please send in a quick note endorsing our letter.

Thank you in advance for taking action.  Together we can make a difference!

Cheers,
Sharon

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Massive Government Overreach: Obama’s AFFH Rule Is Out Under new management?

Massive Government Overreach: Obama’s AFFH Rule Is Out Under new management?



by STANLEY KURTZ July 8, 2015 10:47 AM Today, HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced the finalization of the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. A front-page article preemptively defending the move appears in today’s Washington Post. The final rule is 377 pages, vastly longer than the preliminary version of the rule promulgated in 2013. 

AFFH is easily one of President Obama’s most radical initiatives, on a par with Obamacare in its transformative potential. In effect, AFFH gives the federal government a lever to re-engineer nearly every American neighborhood — imposing a preferred racial and ethnic composition, densifying housing, transportation, and business development in suburb and city alike, and weakening or casting aside the authority of local governments over core responsibilities, from zoning to transportation to education. Not only the policy but the political implications are immense — at the presidential, congressional, state, and local levels. 

It is a scandal that the mainstream press has largely refused to report on AFFH until the day of its final release. The rule has been out in preliminary form for two years, and well before that the Obama administration’s transformative aims in urban/suburban policy were evident. 

Three years ago, when I wrote about Obama’s policy blueprint in Spreading the Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, the administration’s efforts to keep this issue under the radar were evident. Only last month, an admission of the stealth relied on by advocates to advance this initiative was caught on video

Obama has downplayed his policy goals in this area and delayed the finalization of AFFH for years, because he understands how politically explosive this rule is. Once the true implications of AFFH are understood, Americans will rebel. The only prospect for successful imposition is a frog-boiling strategy of gradual intensification. The last day the frog will be able to jump is Tuesday, November 8, 2016. 

Fundamentally, AFFH is an attempt to achieve economic integration. Race and ethnicity are being used as proxies for class, since these are the only hooks for social engineering provided by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Like AFFH itself, today’s Washington Post piece blurs the distinction between race and class, conflating the persistence of “concentrated poverty” with housing discrimination by race. Not being able to afford a freestanding house in a bedroom suburb is no proof of racial discrimination. Erstwhile urbanites have been moving to rustic and spacious suburbs since Cicero built his villa outside Rome. Even in a monoracial and mono-ethnic world, suburbanites would zone to set limits on dense development. 

Emily Badger’s piece in today’s Washington Post focuses on race, but the real story of AFFH is the attempt to force integration by class, to densify development in American suburbs and cities, and to undo America’s system of local government and replace it with a “regional” alternative that turns suburbs into helpless satellites of large cities. Once HUD gets its hooks into a municipality, no policy area is safe. Zoning, transportation, education, all of it risks slipping into the control of the federal government and the new, unelected regional bodies the feds will empower. Over time, AFFH could spell the end of the local democracy that Alexis de Tocqueville rightly saw as the foundation of America’s liberty and distinctiveness. 

At this point, municipalities across the country need to seriously consider refraining from applying for Community Development Block Grants and other grant programs sponsored by HUD. Take one dollar of HUD money and you will be forced to submit to its demands, which can reach far beyond housing. Unfortunately, this is a highly imperfect solution, and not only because municipalities would be surrendering money taxed from their citizens’ pockets. The recent Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project has provided the federal government with a second club to use against municipalities seeking to escape HUD control. (See my piece on Inclusive Communities in the latest issue of National Review.) Ultimately, only a Republican president acting in concert with a Republican Congress can stymie AFFH and undo the damage of the Supreme Court’s recent housing decision. 

This brings us to politics. As noted, AFFH is a largely unacknowledged attempt to force economic integration on every neighborhood in America. Yet in a recent Rasmussen poll, 83 percent of respondents said it was not the government’s job to diversify neighborhoods by income level, while only 8 percent say that this is an appropriate task for government. Now you know why the Obama administration and a compliant press corps have kept this initiative quiet. 

It will take time to collect the data on which HUD’s new demands for local governments all over America will be based. While important enforcement will begin under the Obama administration, the major impact of AFFH will come under President Hillary Clinton, should she be elected. And Obama’s AFFH enforcer, Julian Castro, is widely touted as a likely vice-presidential running mate for Hillary. That means AFFH is going to be an issue in the next presidential campaign. 

And the political implications go deeper still, to every level of government. Westchester County, New York, where AFFH has had a dry run of sorts, is now administered by Republican county executive Robert Astorino. Many forget that before the Obama administration tried to force Westchester County to cast aside its own zoning laws and build high-density, low-income housing at its own expense, Westchester was a liberal Democratic county run by liberal Democrats. After all, this is where Bill and Hillary Clinton live. At the local level, the Obama administration drove Westchester into the arms of the Republicans. The same thing could happen nationally, at every political level. But only if the frog wakes up and jumps by November of 2016. Even with AFFH now public, the Obama administration and the press corps will do everything in their power to obscure the real issues at stake in the massive AFFH power-grab. Don’t let that happen. — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at com

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/420896/massive-government-overreach-obamas-affh-rule-out-stanley-kurtz

Monday, July 13, 2015

1950s Urban Renewal: The Dynamic American City (1956)



Advocates urban redevelopment and renewal, 1950s-style. Supports many planning strategies which are criticized today: the destruction of "blighted" neighborhoods in the name of progress, autocentric planning and construction, and suburban sprawl. .

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Happy Monday

Freaky Flowers: Echinopsis Cacti in Bloom from EchinopsisFreak on Vimeo.

Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization


Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization

NEWSMarch 31, 2008VOL 44 ISSUE 14 Environment

WASHINGTON—According to a report released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, the recent influx of exceedingly affluent powder-wigged aristocrats into the nation's gentrified urban areas is pushing out young white professionals, some of whom have lived in these neighborhoods for as many as seven years.Multibillion-dollar castles like this one have been popping up all over Brooklyn.Maureen Kennedy, a housing policy expert and lead author of the report, said that the enormous treasure-based wealth of the aristocracy makes it impossible for those living on modest trust funds to hold onto their co-ops and converted factory loft spaces."When you have a bejeweled, buckle-shoed duke willing to pay 11 or 12 times the asking price for a block of renovated brownstones—and usually up front with satchels of solid gold guineas—hardworking white-collar people who only make a few hundred thousand dollars a year simply cannot compete," Kennedy said. "If this trend continues, these exclusive, vibrant communities with their sidewalk caf├ęs and faux dive bars will soon be a thing of the past."According to Kennedy, one of the most pressing concerns associated with rapid aristocratization is the drastic transformation of the metropolitan landscape in a way that fails to maximize livable space.Incoming aristocrats are easily spotted by their distinctive dress and taste for chamber music."A three-block section of [Chicago neighborhood] Wicker Park that once accommodated eight families, two vintage clothing stores, a French cleaners, and a gourmet bakery has been completely razed to make way for a private livery stable and carriage house," Kennedy said. "The space is now entirely unusable for affordable upper-income condominium housing. No one can live there except for the odd stable boy or footman who gets permission to sleep in the hayloft."Many of those affected by the ostentatious reshaping of their once purely upmarket neighborhoods said that they often wish for a return back to the privileged communities they helped to overdevelop just a few years ago. Among the first to feel the effects of the encroaching aristocracy have been local business owners like Fort Greene, Brooklyn resident Neil Getz."Around here, you used to be able to get a Fair-Trade latte and a chocolate-chip croissant for only eight bucks," said Getz, who is planning to move back in with his parents after being forced out of the lease on his organic grocery store by a harpsichord purveyor. "Now it's all tearooms and private salon gatherings catered with champagne and suckling pig. Who can afford that?""It's just a terrible shame," Getz continued. "There was this great little shop right across the street from my duplex apartment where I bought my baby daughter a Ramones onesie a couple of years ago, just after she was born. That whole block is an opera house now."The aristocracy has adamantly dismissed claims that the sweeping changes are detrimental to the merely wealthy who have been displaced, and many persons of noble blood have pointed to aristocratization's benefits. These include lower crime rates attributed to new punishments, such as public floggings and the pillory, which are primarily meted out for maintaining direct eye contact with members of the highest class."These accusations are pure, slanderous rubbish," said Lord Nathan Dunkirk III, the owner of a prodigious manor house that, along with its steeplechase course and topiary garden, sits on what was once the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. "If anything, the layabouts and wastrels have been afforded a veritable glut of new and felicitous opportunities as bootblacks and scullery maids."Other aristocrats have echoed Dunkirk and have additionally deflected blame onto regification, a process by which they say they were priced out of their vast rural holdings by kings who wished to consolidate property and develop monumental palatial estates.
x

Does Affordable Housing Perpetuate Racial Segregation?

Does Affordable Housing Perpetuate Racial Segregation?


A new lawsuit claims New York's affordable housing program discriminates against blacks and Latinos.


The old community of West 99th Street, featured in the Reason TV documentary, "The Tragedy of Urban Renewal." |||The Anti-Discrimination Center, a Manhattan-based non-profit, filed a lawsuit in federal court this week, claiming that New York City's affordable housing program perpetuates "entrenched segregation."
The lawsuit takes issue with a common policy in which affordable housing developers set aside 50 percent of the apartments in a new development for prospective tenants already living in the community district. This means access is "effectively prioritized for white residents" who already reside in neighborhoods with the best schools and amenities and "limited for African-American and Latino New Yorkers who do not," according to the lawsuit.
The Anti-Discrimination Center hasn't produced any empirical evidence to support this theory, but it's certainly correct on principle: No group has special claim to a neighborhood.
Sometimes politicians and developers are willing to take outrageous measures to preserve existing neighborhood demographics. Consider an affordable housing development on Manhattan's Upper West Side that was sold to the public in part as a way to help upper middle class residents feeling priced out of the neighborhood. To this end, some of the taxpayer-subsidized apartments in the building are targeted at families with annual incomes as high as $193,000. (For more on the project, see my July 2014 article, "New York City's Affordable Housing Bonanza for the Rich.")
In a June 2014 interview with Capital New York, City Council Member Helen Rosenthal (D-6thDistrict), who actually negotiated with the developer to raise the building's income threshold, explained her logic.
"[W]hat makes the Upper West Side the Upper West Side," she told reporter Ryan Hutchins, "is that, 20, 30 years ago, a bunch of sort of lower-middle income families and individuals took a risk on [the neighborhood]…And the city, I think, has an obligation to find a way for these people to stay on the Upper West Side…"
Giving taxpayer-subsidized apartments to families that make four times New York City's household median income is obscene, but so is any policy that seeks to preserve a neighborhood's existing demographics. As the Anti-Discrimination Center lawsuit points out, this has the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for newcomers to move in to the neighborhood—a process that facilitates social mobility.
Take Harlem, which was home to a white community in 1904, when a black real estate entrepreneur named Philip Payton purchased two buildings on West 135th Street. Payton evicted the white tenants and rented the buildings to blacks, who, at the time, were mostly confined to living in a handful of run-down enclaves in Manhattan.
Thankfully, there were no government-subsidized apartments for existing residents to preserve the neighborhood as it was. Payton's gambit led blacks to move into Harlem en mass. By the 1920s, the neighborhood was the cultural capital of the African-American world.
For more on the great Philip Payton and why the government should never be allowed to influence neighborhood demographics, watch "The Tragedy of Urban Renewal," a 2011 Reason TV documentary I wrote and produced, which is narrated by Nick Gillespie: