Thursday, December 13, 2018
Marin Voice: Companies need to take responsibility for housing shortage
By BARRY PHEGAN |
December 10, 2018 at 10:00 am
Hiding behind the public narrative of “housing shortage” lies an ongoing corporate pattern of dumping costs on others. They’re doing it now with housing, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is cooperating. It’s time we changed the playing field. Here’s my suggestion.
No problems exists in a vacuum. Causing the “housing crisis” is bulging growth in jobs and accompanying office space, creating a major imbalance.
When a similar imbalance occurs inside a corporation (say, hiring new employees without having the needed desks, chairs, office space, telephone, etc.), the company brings together the affected departments, agrees on the solution, and writes new procedures or rules to prevent the problem’s reoccurrence, (e.g., the personnel department must notify the office-space-management department of new hires).
But we are not watching a rational, problem-solving process here. We are watching a public political discussion — where we can be sure the public story line is largely controlled by, and financially benefits, the powerful and wealthy.
Googling the money trail supporting the elected officials who define the problem as a “housing crisis” reveals these beneficiaries. It is (no surprises here) corporations and real estate and construction groups, each with a vested interest in deflecting public attention away from the irresponsibility of companies building office space, regardless of the associated cost of social services — including housing, schools, roads, etc.
Companies externalize costs when possible. It’s their legal responsibility to maximize stockholder profits. If it’s cheaper to dump toxic waste into the local river than to process it, a company will do that, and will fight any action that makes it take responsibility — unless every company has to do this, i.e. unless society establishes a new level playing field.
Nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupation Safety and Health Administration help create a level and socially desirable corporate playground regarding the environment and safety. It’s time we did this in the Bay area with another social cost –housing.
Most people don’t like our out-of-balance region, where the steroid-fed San Francisco/Silicon Valley job magnet creates problems for the rest of us. In their heart of hearts, public officials in cities such as Brisbane or Emeryville aren’t proud of grabbing a disproportionate share of high tax commercial space, while ignoring the effect this has on their neighbors. But current financial tax incentives motivate cities to grab what they can. See the full article HERE