California's housing bubble is spilling over into poor and exurban neighborhoods, creating waves of crises

MUNI is San Francisco’s municipal transit system. The high-speed regional transit system is BART.

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In the context of this conversation I believe Cory is referring to systems like BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), regional commuter rail systems that connect several cities and aren’t subject to delays from street traffic (like SF’s Muni system).


Towns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have been creating ordinances to prevent the spread of the house-turned-apartment trend. Some of this started in college towns to keep student renters out of certain areas. The problem is that those rents aren’t affordable for the working poor, and the number of unrelated people occupying units has been limited. The popularity of Airbnb led some landlords to focus on short term rentals instead of long term leases. That means even less inventory for area workers.

The situation isn’t much better on the east coast. Sprawl from NYC has extended into eastern PA. There are commuters who drive across North Jersey every day for work, in addition to those who park and ride from South Jersey. Legislators in PA are known to complain about the commute from Philly to Harrisburg, too. Although there is mass transit, the speed and routes requiring a lot of connections prevent me from describing it as “decent.”

My worst commute was to Trenton, NJ. It took almost three hours one way on public transportation. After doing that for two years, I bought a car and was able to drive to work in one hour. NJ did have incentives for mass transit (as well as car and van pools) to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, but today the convenience of car travel is harder to beat - especially for gig economy workers with more than one source of income.


This is mostly driven by the high cost of land. If land costs are high (as here in Seattle) the resulting development is not going to be built for the “affordable” (read: normal working people) market. Case in point: lots near where I live in NE Seattle (including an old trailer park) are about $100k each. So the developer is in for $100k before she turns a shovel of dirt or drives the first nail. If that land was rented, rather than sold, or was subject to a location fee that should drive down the price. If the 1% property tax was a 2 or 5 or 10% location fee, that could push the price down and allow developers a little more room to be creative. The ideal price of a parcel of land is $0 with land rents paid to the city, not unearned increment going to speculators.


the NIMBYs will gladly accept your assistance in blocking private construction

without giving you anything else you want

especially not public housing


Are there any places that manage to do this without horribly isolating those living in the designated low-income units? I wonder, even if the developments don’t exclude them from amenities, what affordable options they’d have for food and other necessities nearby. for example.

You could afford a mortgage on that in Philly. Not every neighborhood of course- but nice enough for a small townhouse or condo.


Yes. They do in many areas. It’s easier if you’re in a city with decent public transportation.


The Coffee House I frequent has 4 employes sharing a 500 sq. ft. studio for $2000.00 per month plus utilities. That’s 4 humans making minimum wage, working 40+ hours a week, they all have a side hustle for making extra cash too. This is what San diego has turned into, it’s fucking depressing, and I’m not the one sharing a small studio with 3 others…


Ah, okay, got it. Other than BART, the only other similar systems in California that I’m aware of are a couple of the LA Metro lines. Are there others? Such “high-speed transit” lines seem to be rare, and I suspect that they’re more difficult to build.

YES. I’ve seen/heard/read so much anecdata about Russian/Chinese/Saudi/billionaire buying of property in urban markets like NYC, Los Angeles and the Bay Area—as well as Toronto and London—perhaps as investments but possibly as a sort of money laundering, and have heard nothing about any governments doing anything to look into it, despite the multiple deleterious effects. (Which isn’t to say they haven’t or aren’t doing anything about it and I simply haven’t heard.)

In Toronto and Vancouver, they’ve added foreign buyers taxes, which is to say they’ve decided to go the racist route and give Canadian speculators an advantage. A good chunk of home owners are Canadian anyways, so they’re complicit, and the big losers are working foreigners who don’t have PR. But then again it’s easy for dishonest foreign investors to hide behind corporations and get around the tax.

As usual, if there was a neat and easy solution to a problem such as this, it wouldn’t be a problem any more. :slight_smile:

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