NYT article on the contradictions of Bay-Area NIMBYs

…In which local agriculture is weaponized against higher density in Berkeley.


Similar to the NIMBY issues of the surrounding areas I have read about a few years ago now. The surrounding areas are all happy to have a new business park for the tech giants but refuse to have more housing so the employees can actually live close to work which forces them to find housing that is more expensive and drive out other people.


Berkeley isn’t representative of California Urban/Suburban areas.

Edit to add: In many cases, new housing isn’t so much the problem as the water supply. It seems silly to have to note that California has water supply issues, but I guess it must be done.


What blew my mind in the article was that the council has to vote on as-of-right permits, and think they’re free to deny them “just because”. Here, as-of-right means just that.

Our coastal cities don’t have a housing cost problem, they have a zoning problem. Here the basic zoning is limited to a 2 family 35’ high on a 25x100 lot. So a house on a 50x100 gets torn down for 2 hideous “Bayonne Boxes” instead of a single 4 or 5 floor apartment house with 20 homes.


When I was in the Cabo de Gata a few years ago, I noticed they had a solar powered desalination plant which provided not only enough water for the nearby towns and cities but also plenty of water for growing food.

Is there any technical (or legal) reason why California couldn’t do the same?

AFAIK, lack of water isn’t something that comes up in deciding how to zone buildings, at all.

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Perhaps in the past. But the recent severe drought has certainly made people think.

I don’t know, but it certainly seems like a good idea.

This, and the potential for increased traffic.

Long Beach has these “Say No to Land Use Element” signs popping up on the east side. I tried to research what the controversy is, and it’s still difficult to ascertain exactly how Gov. Brown’s law will impact any residential housing. The maps provided by local gov’t show multiple dwellings/stories are in areas currently deemed commercial. I think the idea is to facilitate mixed development and increase housing. I also thought I read that the city is trying to encourage developers in building where there’s mass transit and to limit parking spaces, which will help.

Unfortunately, the council has neglected in articulating what the goals are and what the potential impact may be for homeowners.

Link to this argument being made anywhere at all?

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We need more housing!
Okay, we’ll build new housing.
No! New housing is gentrification!
Okay, we won’t build new housing. You can just rent.
Rents are too high!
Well, buy a house.
We can’t! We have a housing shortage!
Okay, so what, exactly, do you want?
We need more housing!
(flips table)

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I can’t link to what people are thinking. But there was a severe drought. I’m jumping to the conclusion that people remember it.

Back in 2008, Seattle proposed a mixed-income development plan for Fort Lawton, part homeless housing, part market-rate. Opponents sued. Over two years of legal back and forth, a neighborhood group demanded more environmental review of the proposal. Eventually, the Court of Appeals agreed that under state environmental rules known as SEPA, the city needed to do more environmental review.

SEPA appeals and lawsuits are a common tactic for people trying to stop or delay construction. The Sightline Institute, an environmental think tank that advocates for market-rate housing, calls SEPA a “recipe for both obstructionism and bad urban housing policy.”


Basically, it’s the circular “these go to 11” argument.

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…and here’s a NYT article that continues the thread from The Stranger:

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Possible technical reasons:

  1. I’d be surprised if that Spanish plant was entirely solar powered. Desal is an energy hog.

  2. If done improperly, the release of the concentrated brine back into the environment can trash ecosystems.

Desal is the last-ditch solution to water shortages. Waste prevention and recycling are usually much better options.

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