Zoning changes could put a hurt on Black homeownership

By Badly Barber : wired – excerpt

I am a Black grandparent, homeowner and member of the Altadena Town Council. I grew up in a single-family home, and my husband and I have lived in our house in Altadena for more than two decades. Homeownership helped my family build wealth and provide stable, quality housing, and gave us our piece of the American Dream. But state and local politicians are threatening homeownership among the Black community by damaging single-family zoning laws…

Our homes have been sanctuaries that people know they can always return to, and we plan to pass our homes to our children so they can build wealth. We also are very engaged in our community because we have a vested interest as homeowners. Our homes, in a real way, give us political power and a voice at the table. But state and local elected officials in California–and across the United States– now seek to alter single-family zoning so that big developers can rush into middle- and working-class communities of color, demolish single-family homes and build pricey, market-rate apartments in their place. That dangerous agenda is playing out in California through Senate bills 9 and 10, which would gut single-family zoning and open the door for predatory developers — many of whom are regular campaign contributors to state and local politicians…(more)

How to Sell Forced Densification to Libertarians

By The Antiplannerti – excerpt

When cities pass zoning rules (as Missoula, Portland, and many Portland suburbs have done) mandating minimum-density zoning — so that people are forced to either build high-density housing in existing low-density neighborhoods or build nothing at all — libertarians lead the charge against such rules. But urban planners have managed to achieve the same result, and gain the support of some who consider themselves libertarian, by:

  1. Drawing an urban-growth boundary or passing similar policies forbidding development outside the existing urban footprint;
  2. Waiting a few years for the resulting supply shorting to push up housing prices;
  3. Blaming high housing prices on residents of single-family neighborhoods who object to densification of their neighborhoods;
  4. Proposing a law or ordinance that effectively eliminates zoning in those single-family neighborhoods…..

Yet the reality is that every major American city except Houston has single-family zoning, but only a few are unaffordable — and those few all use urban-growth boundaries or otherwise restrict development of rural lands outside the existing urban areas… (more)

The Urban Humanism Manifesto: Putting Communities First

By John Mirisch : newgeography – excerpt

CEQA3

Construction comes with a high cost to residents’ health. All is not rosy for the residents of the new Mission Bay housing springing up along the San Francisco Bay who are getting a dose of dust and contaminants from the piles of excavated dirt blowing their way. Photo by zrants.

Urban planning exists to serve people and communities, not the other way around. Unfortunately, urban planners these days, perhaps under the influence of academic arrogance as well as the lure of developer dollars, seem to forget this simple truism.

A particularly invidious form of planning orthodoxy involves certain adherents of so-called “new urbanism,” which looks at density, more density and only density as the hallmark of the (for them) only acceptable form of urban living.

Without considering that people of all colors, stripes and ethnicities might like to have gardens, these urban planning densifiers support policies whose main aims are to eliminate low-density housing, without regard to preservation of the integrity of communities or without acknowledging that community character means anything.

The new urbanist density hawks also use other “arguments” apart from social justice to make their moral case for high-density, including, importantly, environmental considerations. Never mind the fact that even studies done by density advocates show that the supposed benefits of increased density on the environment would be marginal, at best. But that doesn’t dampen the rhetoric. Far from it. Some of the most strident density fetishists decry single-family neighborhoods as “the enemy” and proclaim homeowners to be nothing less than “zoo animals” and “bloodthirsty dinosaurs,” who are “angry, entitled, immoral, classist and racist.”… (more)

How livable are the new dense urban environments? How healthy are residents living in a perpetual construction zone?

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