How an influential economics paper used imaginary environmental overregulation to spur low-density luxury housing


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/28/voodoo-housing-economics.html


#2

I’ve pretty much solved this problem for me and mine, by residing in the semi-rural Ohio Valley where none of the super rich appear to want to live.


#3

Because even they can’t stand to be near you?


#4

In the end the rich own all the land, even that in rural areas.


#5

The end is nigh


#6

Seems like there’s two separate claims up for debate; does the CEQA get abused by NIMBYs, and are CEQA threats the reason new affordable housing doesn’t get built? From what I have read, the answers seem to be yes, and no, respectively. The author is correct in stating that lack of funding is the main reason affordable housing doesn’t get built–it’s hard to get enough funds to build enough units to trigger the CEQA, though you could perhaps make an argument that CEQA keeps affordable housing on the small side by adding additional risk that developers don’t want to take. However, environmental reporting in general is definitely a tool for stopping the clock and running up legal bills for people opposed to any development. Take the example of the 100% affordable housing development that was proposed to be built at 1st and Lorena in Boyle Heights.

This development would have been one of the first to make use of Measure HHH funds, which was passed as a way of resolving the lack of funds for 100% affordable housing in Los Angeles county. The Rosado family, who owns the El Mercado market/restaurant/club next door to the proposed development, hired famous NIMBY mercenary Robert Silverstein to stop the development at all costs. As advertised, Robert Silverstein has used every argument possible; that there wasn’t enough parking, that the residents’ mental health problems would pose a threat to children of the neighborhood, and yes, that the full environmental impacts hadn’t been accounted for. Were environmental impacts the only reason the development has stalled? Probably not, but it was a contributing factor. I feel like we were asking the same type of question just over a year ago concerning the defeat of Hillary Clinton; you can make an argument that misogyny, racism, homophobia, voter disenfranchisement, media bias–you name it, wasn’t the only reason for her defeat, but you can’t argue that they weren’t factors at all, such determinations are virtually impossible to know with any certainty.

Let’s just pause a moment to appreciate the lengths NIMBYs will twist environmental concern to meet their ends. A recent traffic speed intervention on the west side of LA was basically completely rolled back due to ferocious NIMBY outcry, and one of their arguments was that changing a car lane into a bike lane was bad for the environment, due to the emissions these cars would be making while idling slightly more in traffic.

I don’t think anybody is asking for the CEQA to be scrapped, but its demonstrated utility as an instrument of fake environmental concern needs to be curbed.


#7

Since I’m in the middle of 60+acres, they don’t have to get too close…


#8

Nice #humblebrag. Still, 250m is plenty close enough.


#9

I can vouch for this, I live in Ohio and any place outside of the cities is a horrid wasteland of rightwing lunatics, shoddy housing, factory farms, and warehouses that pay less than $13 an hour.

Hence the low cost because nobody wants to live there.


#10

Tomorrow I’ll post a picture of the view from my patio.


#11

That sure sounds like economics, alright.


#12

Take a picture of the factory in front of your house that pays sub livable wages too.


#13

I’m told that, in real sciences, “whether these figures are correct” is esteemed a somewhat important factor as to whether they actually provide the basis for much of anything at all.

I’m glad to hear that they accidentally flatter our preferences about they hypothetical frictionless planar Market where spherical merchants radiate goods and services according to an ideal black-body supply curve. That’s, um, important work too.


#14

The other side of the problem is that investment in housing in cities seem to center around luxury condos for hipsters to LARP as poor (ironically of course!). None of the new apartments in Whittier (Minneapolis) have been for anyone that can afford rents at or below $850 (one bedroom). It’s been $1100 and up. It’s ridiculous this is happening considering the city itself is landlocked.


#15

When you say ‘outside the cities’, what is your approximate population cutoff and do you disallow suburbs? Ohio has a bunch of smallish university towns, like Yellow Springs, Gambier, Bowling Green and Athens, that are quite liveable. I won’t argue too much about the rightwing lunacy, at least outside the colleges.


#16

Kind of random, but I got into a conversation with a research economist on an airplane recently and he said that housing is one of the most straightforward things to model, supply and demand wise. Lots of things are tricky or have nuance, but housing is one of the ones where the relationship between supply and demand is incredibly straightforward. Add housing, housing prices go down.

This whole idea about “oh no, safety deposit boxes in the sky” is kind of dumb if you think about it - or at least, only applies to areas that don’t have such artificially restricted supply as the San Francisco Bay Area. If people want to invest in San Francisco because property prices are bullet proof, they’re going to do it whether it’s a condo in a 50 story building in SOMA or it’s a house out in the Sunset. At least if you build the 50 story luxury condo building in SOMA, they aren’t buying up a house in the Mission. The market for expensive properties are there. Not filling it just drives those buyers into buying housing that would otherwise be midmarket.

If you’re really concerned about people buying investment properties (which I think is the more pressing problem in places like London, which also has a housing problem, but not one as insane as SF’s), there are ways to address that. Just further restricting building isn’t going to do it.

I’ve noticed a trend here in the bay area where people shut down housing development by going “oh no, we shouldn’t build this, we should build affordable housing” but then those same people never actually support any real affordable housing. They’d like it all to stay theoretical.

I wonder why that is.

I’m beginning to think that it’s the liberal property owner equivalent of “pro-lifers” whose their interest in supporting that life begins and ends with stopping abortion and never extends to actually caring for the mother or child.

Of COURSE they support housing - but only AFFORDABLE housing, just as long as it’s not built here, oh my no, we couldn’t have people “changing the character of the neighborhood.” Sometimes they’re actually pretty explicit about wanting to keep the poors out.


#17

I wish you could get rent like that where I live. That is off the low end of the scale.


#18

You don’t get much smaller than Gambier. It’s basically just Kenyon.


#19

Fortunately that’s not the only breed of lunatic lurkin’ in the sticks of Ohio


http://skatopia.org/


#20

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