California State Senator wants to remake cities with midrises near public transit, but he is facing a wave of nimbyism

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Gosh, removing decisions that directly affect a neighborhood further away from that neighborhood. And they are upset about it? The nerve!

This is willfully ignoring the other legit complaint, quality of life, that it’s simply more people. I used to be able to park in front of my house, now I’m not. Less peace and quiet, more people coming and going, more traffic, more parties, more litter. Some people might like that, some might not, but it’s definitely change, and oddly this site sometimes argues that people who live in a neighborhood should have some control over its character.

I mean, I’m generally in favor of less zoning over more, but this whole effort to smear people with “nimby” as a derogative is nonsense. People want, and deserve, a say in their neighborhoods.

I generally like what San Diego has done, in loosening restrictions on “granny flats” and such. Something that encourages people to add a unit to their property, but not such an incentive for investors to buy up multiple (historic, usually) houses and tear them down to build ugly six-pack apartments as they apparently did back in the day, which led to a fair amount of blight still suffered today.


This is like calling Jane Jacobs a NIMBY for opposing the destruction of neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Little Italy, & Soho by the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway in NY. It’s not just a question of economic values or efficient warehousing of humans, & there’s no “one size fits all” solution that can be imposed on communities from above.


Many of the slated housing projects are on hold to see how this pans out. Mean time, housing gets harder to find by the day…


I’ve never heard of her, but that sounds like a pretty good definition.

I would think there would be beaucoups money in mid-rise development, and money talks to legislators. Does loud complaining work too? (Cf. Citizens United.)

Seattle is doing this with its new light rail system. Upzoning around essentially every station I believe, and yea its to 6 stories in most (more in a few that already were that high).

Lots of complaining about it though.

Definitely smart to do it while putting in the new stations, rather than trying to do it years later.


The main problem isn’t that neighborhood councils will have zoning changes “imposed” on them, it’s that this reg change will supercede the various incentives cities have come up with to encourage affordable housing. For instance, many cities have zoning exceptions that allow greater FAR (, basically the regulation that controls how tall you can build) for developments that provide a certain percentage of affordable units, and the value of that FAR bonus is diminished when the state supersedes local zoning in what are some of the the most desirable places to build.

However, the density bonus for affordable housing hasn’t exactly been very successful, especially given that those zoning exceptions are fought tooth-and-nail by neighborhood councils no matter what, so I think the impact on affordable housing is being somewhat oversold. It may take state regulations to move the center of power away from the local political skullduggery


Look, Seattle, if it’s not an elevated monorail I don’t want to hear about it.

Show some pride in yourself damnit.


This is a total mis-read. Jacobs was against putting a freeway in the middle of a neighborhood, not building taller buildings. As long as those taller buildings don’t have aspirations of becoming cities unto themselves (again, part of this modernist vision of freeways and super-blocks), there is no reason to bring up Jacobs.


I think it will take this very thing. While I am all for having a say about the future of your neighborhood, when it’s a problem that affects all neighborhoods, and all neighborhoods’ say is always “NO!”, then it’s not having a voice, it is becoming a roadblock to solving a serious problem.


Everyone could agree housing in CA is a problem that needs a solution, but no one wants a solution that is perceived to affect them- I think that is the definition of nimbyism?
I wonder if people that are offended by the word nimbyism might also be masking their personal selfishness on the matter?


(Hey Admins, your ads are noisy and on autoplay, Hulu being the offender this morning. Stop it.)
Housing prices are prohibitively expensive, there simply are no “starter” homes available, and people are renting out substandard housing for a ridiculous amount of profit. The big gap in the plan to increase inventory is that I rarely see any talk of making that inventory more affordable. We’re just building more glass palaces for people who can afford a $3k rent without blinking. People who are paid the national average can’t afford that.


I hear those things are awfully loud.

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The argument I’ve heard on this point is that if someone with a budget of 1M wants to buy a house, they’re going to buy a house, and if there aren’t nicer houses to buy, they’ll just buy a starter home instead. Any increase in inventory at all, except at the very tippy rarified top is going to improve the situation, because it alleviates market pressure in that slice of the column, and then reduces it down from there too.

I think I may not have explained that well, but if you assume that there’s say, 1,000 people that would buy a 750k home, but there aren’t new 750k homes for them to buy, they’ll just buy a 500k or 350k home that a relatively poorer family could have afforded instead.

I’m inclined to believe it. I think that we SHOULD be building cheaper housing and more compact housing too, but I am generally in favor of ‘all inventory is good inventory’ in these areas.




Affordable housing is a terrible term. Affordable to whom? (Or should that be affordable to who? My grammar brain is shaky this morning.)


There are a lot of property owners in California for whom there is no middle ground between a museum-grade neighborhood frozen in Spielbergia and a clumsily approved skyscraper unmoored from its foundation.

As the cost of buying or renting property rises, the cost of cheap labor for the service industry or the government will rise. Those people need to live somewhere (far away from you). And then you will pay. Oh, how you will pay. I sure hope you’re not just “property rich” because that won’t last.


What protections are being included to prevent most of these units being used for AirBnB?

Weiner makes some highly debatable statements, eg:

The only way we will meet our climate and air quality goals is to build a lot more housing and to do so in urbanized areas accessible to public transportation.
The only way we will continue to grow California’s economy is to build a lot more housing and to do so in urbanized areas accessible to public transportation.

It seems to me that the California economy, already 6th largest in the world, is not desperately in need of growing (especially if you’re worried about housing and air quality), and that a better way to deal with “climate and air quality goals” is a two-pronged strategy combining (a) reducing California’s population growth, and (b) moving jobs to parts of the state where housing is cheaper and growth is easier.

How about a law prohibiting new business from incorporating in the Bay Area?


Careful with that double-edged sword. The Texas legislature basically exists to do nothing except undermine Austin and Houston’s abilities to govern, so as to make the conversion from corporate tax breaks to campaign financing as smooth as possible.

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They’re already paying. They’re fine with paying, because the added cost to them is relatively small. Making your maid wake up at 3 AM to catch two buses and a train to get to your home costs you maybe the cost monthly bus pass and train pass, if she passes that cost on to her employer. Or Maybe you just make her pay that, because you can find another desperate maid willing to eat that cost like that. In either case, it costs the maid a lot more in raw time. The geographic stratification just drives the economic stratification even harder.

When government employees become hard to find – because who would work on a pay schedule that’s never updated, and started off bad – then you tell the government to just do less with less, because we’re not raising taxes.

When food service wages go up, they pass it on as a tiny increase in product costs, or else are encouraged to automate, or else fire anyone with experience in favor of cheaper teenagers (because more people means more teenagers).

Sure, overall services cost more. That’s why California is already more expensive than, say, Oklahoma. But people still seem to prefer to move to California than Oklahoma, so no real correction seems forthcoming.