Guest Commentary: The Many Downsides of Ending Single-Family Zoning – A Progressive’s View

By Maggie Coulter

As more Sacramentans from all over the city have become aware of CA State Senate Bills 9 & 10 and the Sacramento draft 2040 General Plan proposals to eliminate single family zoning and neighborhoods as well as onsite parking requirements, their concerns have increased.

Eliminating existing single family neighborhoods, home to a wide diversity of racial and economic groups, among other things will impact people’s lives, the environment, and existing infrastructure.

Sacramento’s proposed General Plan would upzone all existing single family neighborhoods in the city, allowing up to six units on any single family lot. SB 9 would preempt local zoning by allowing up to 8 units on what is now one single family lot and exempt developers from paying for infrastructure improvements.

SB 10 would allow cities and counties to both:  approve up to 14 units on single family lots without environmental review and to undo voter-approved protection of open space and urban boundaries.

All of these proposals cut out the public hearing process, which means neighbors get no notification and no input. Sacramento’s upzoning and SB 9 would eliminate requirements that onsite parking be provided, putting more cars on already crowded streets in existing neighborhoods.

None of these proposals require that the housing be affordable, rather they fall back on unproven “trickle down theory” that increasing market rate housing will magically, somehow, eventually result in some units being affordable.

The City of Sacramento also claims without any evidence, that ending single family zoning will right the wrongs of past discriminatory practices.

Evasive affordability

As Chris Jones writes in Equity, Affordability and Upzoning:

“Regarding the idea that upzoning increases supply and makes housing more affordable, there is evidence that it in fact does the opposite. In 2013 and 2015, Chicago created a natural experiment by upzoning large sections of the city, allowing higher Floor Area Ratios (FAR), eliminating parking requirements, and increasing allowable housing density. [An MIT study of this upzoning concluded] first, there is strong evidence that upzoning increases the property prices for existing single-family homes and that second, there was no evidence for short or medium term increases in housing unit construction.”

Jones’ comments are echoed by Vancouver, BC professor, planner and author, Patrick Condon, who told more than 160 California community leaders at the Livable California Teleconference on Feb. 6, 2021 that “upzoning” of neighborhoods drives up housing costs and cannot create affordable housing.

Addressing the legacy of housing discrimination

The truth is that redlining and racist Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions caused discrimination in housing, NOT single family zoning or neighborhoods. Blaming single family zoning is like blaming the existence of high schools for students not getting the same quality of education.

The problem is not that we have high schools, it is the inequitable investment in education and attention to student needs. Correlation does not equal causality.

In fact, eliminating single family zoning by allowing upzoning to 6 units (four-plexes plus two accessory dwelling units) will likely entice developers to go into less affluent communities, like Oak Park and buy up single family houses to convert to market rate apartments, exacerbating gentrification and displacement of current residents.

As noted above, SB 9 and 10 would allow even higher densities, between 8-14 units per single family lot.

City planners and some Council members seem oblivious to the reality that single family homes and neighborhoods are desired by people regardless of race or economic status. As noted by housing advocates Cynthia Davis and Susie Shanon, in their LA Progressive article, Oppose SB 9 and SB 10: Why Do Politicians Want to Take Away Homeownership from Communities of Color?:

“In California, politicians and developers are attacking single-family home zoning. Yet they suspiciously ignore that homeownership is a crucial tool for communities of color to build wealth. Politicians should not take that away by banning single-family zoning: people of color will suffer serious consequences.”

Madlyn Barber expresses similar concerns in Zoning changes could put a hurt on Black homeownership. Barber writes:

“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.”

The city’s claim that building multifamily units in an affluent neighborhood will allow people from groups, who previously could not live there, to move in is both unfounded and reminiscent of past race-based housing discrimination. New multifamily units in more expensive neighborhoods will also be expensive, not affordable to lower income households and probably not even to moderate income ones.

To suggest that lower income members of a racial group, denied the ability to buy a house in a particular neighborhood in the past, should now be happy with not being able to afford to rent there is at best insulting.

Further, even if a few people could move from an amenity-poor neighborhood to an amenity-rich one, what about all those still left in the less affluent neighborhood? If the goal is to provide equity, then all of Sacramento’s neighborhoods need to be desirable places to live with safe streets, good schools, parks and other amenities.

Questionable need

Not only does Sacramento’s 2040 General Plan Housing Element show that the city can meet its State-assigned Regional Housing Allocation Needs without upzoning existing single family neighborhoods, changes in California’s population and challenges to the State’s assigned housing needs throw doubt on projected housing needs.

Cities and counties are required to demonstrate in their State-mandated Housing Elements that they can accommodate the Regional Housing Allocation Needs (RHNA) numbers of housing units assigned to them by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

In a study released in December 2020, the Embarcadero Institute provides documentation that HCD greatly exaggerates by nearly a million, the number of housing units needed in Sacramento, the Bay Area and southern California. Orange County is now suing the state over these numbers and Bay Area local governments have filed appeals claiming the housing need numbers they have been assigned are far too high.

Sacramento’s planners say the city needs “missing middle housing” but ignores corner duplexes, grandfathered multifamily units, and the ability of all single family lots to have up to two accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

According to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, most ADUs are affordable. Since they are smaller scale, they are also more likely to be built by a homeowner than an outside developer to whom 4-14 unit developments offer greater profitability.

Both Sacramento and the State’s proposals to eliminate single family zoning are one-size-fits all. Though Sacramento city planners and some council members have said that Sacramentans don’t have to worry, there won’t be that many of these multifamily built in single family neighborhoods, the truth is there is no limit on how many can go into any given neighborhood.

At a June 30 community forum, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty continued this misrepresentation, saying that he “did not see investors coming in and tearing down streets”.  Sidestepping concerns raised by his constituents at the forum, McCarty also appeared unaware of the current drought and City water conservation efforts, saying that water shortages are “not as much of an issue for development in Sacramento.”

City planners showcase duplexes and triplexes in their power point presentations, neglecting to mention that the City’s proposal would allow up to 6-plexes and that existing state law already allows up to two Accessory Dwelling Units, which means that any single family lot could already have a defacto duplex or triplex.

Because they are smaller, ADUs are more affordable as noted above and can also potentially fit into existing neighborhoods with less impact.

Significant housing development can also be accommodated the hundreds of miles of underutilized commercial corridors in the State. These can be developed with well-thought out multifamily housing and appropriate infrastructure without disrupting existing single family neighborhoods.

Corporations and disappearing homeownership opportunities

We all are aware of the exorbitant prices increases not only of single family homes but also in rents. Local and state policy and decision makers need to carefully study and address the impacts of trends such as corporate buying that means fewer and fewer people have the security of homeownership.

These are documented in a number of recent articles, including: How corporations are buying up houses — robbing families of the American Dream.  Author Larry Getlen writes:

“Corporate homeownership can not only subject tenants to higher living costs, but often destroys their ability to buy these homes themselves, as companies pay top dollar to take them off the market.
As a result, America is quickly becoming a renter nation.”

The Wall Street Journal reporter Will Parker writes about single family subdivisions being built for rent not sale in Built-To-Rent Suburbs are Poised to Spread Across the U.S.

“In the past few years, the model has taken off around Phoenix and elsewhere—and is likely to become a dominant force in the rental housing market in the coming years, with implications for the communities that surround them, and the nature of home ownership.”

Supporters of upzoning proposals like SB 9 and SB 10 include tech corporations like Facebook and CZI as well as Zillow, Uber, California Apartment Association and YIMBY groups that have utilized hostile tactics, see Inside Game: California YIMBY, Scott Wiener, and Big Tech’s Troubling Housing Push.

What about the environment?

General Plan 2040’s Housing Element and SB 9 and 10 would eliminate yards, turning neighborhoods from green to grey. Vegetation helps reduce air pollution and heat as well as providing habitat for birds, insects and animals. For a good picture, see, Green or Grey, Yards or Concrete.

The claim that eliminating single family zoning will help preserve open space is fantasy. Preserving open space requires mandates and land acquisition. Removing people’s ability to live in urban single family neighborhoods just pushes them to the suburbs. Even SB 9 will not reduce the urban sprawl that is gobbling up California’s open space and agricultural lands.

Citizens are questioning the City’s claims that upzoning will not have environmental impacts. A challenge to the Negative Declaration has been filed and includes an inquiry about the impacts on the aged collective sewer system that serves many older neighborhoods whose densities could increase 5 to 6-fold under the proposed 2040 General Plan Housing Element.

The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Environmental Defense Center and others are on record in opposition to SB 10.

The Minneapolis example

Over the objection of many neighbors and neighborhoods, the city of Minneapolis upzoned all of its single family neighborhoods. Neighbors who sued because the city’s Environmental Impact Report did not adequately address the impacts of upzoning recently won a court battle.

City planner Alissa Luepke Pier was skeptical when upzoning was first contemplated, writing about Minneapolis’ Residential Upzoning Risks Unintended Consequences:

“In an effort to alleviate the affordable housing crisis, the city is offering my community smaller, crappier housing for no less money, with the added insult to injury of making it harder for them to buy a house and build generational wealth within their own community.”

Pier’s skepticism remains as she today notes that the city of Minneapolis still lacks data to show that its experiment in upzoning has done anything other than raise prices and increase displacement.

Absentee investors are on the rise, notes Pier, and their cash offers are preventing existing community members from becoming homeowners. Property taxes are increasing 15-20% a year, driving up rents and thereby displacing residents (both renters and owners on fixed incomes) whose incomes cannot keep pace.

Can’t go back

Eliminating single family zoning is an experiment lacking justification and evidence. It is also has the ability, like poorly done urban renewal of the past, to create damage that is hard to undo.

SB 330, passed by the CA legislature in 2019 prohibits local governments from downzoning any residential property until 2025, when the bill sunsets unless SB 8 extends that date to 2030, or the legislature decides to again ban downzoning. This means if Sacramento upzones all its single family neighborhoods, it is stuck with the fallout until at least 2025, possibly 2030.

Neighborhoods Organize

Neighborhood-based organizations including Save Sacramento Neighborhoods and neighbors throughout Sacramento are organized in opposition to the proposed General Plan upzoning as well as to SB 9 and SB 10. On July 12, three Sacramento neighborhood association presidents and several neighbors spoke against the elimination of single family zoning and neighborhoods at a press conference at the State Capitol.

Statewide groups, United Neighbors and Livable California have been mobilizing opposition to SB 9 and SB 10, recently launching a Stop SB 9 website.

Maggie Coulter is President of the Elmhurst Neighborhood Association and active with Save Sacramento Neighborhoods. She has a BA in Environmental Studies, an MA in Public Policy and an MA in Sociology. She has worked in land use planning, affordable housing, and with at-risk youth. She is a long time Sacramento resident and a human rights and environmental Maggie Coulter is President of the Elmhurst Neighborhood Association and active with Save Sacramento Neighborhoods. She has a BA in Environmental Studies, an MA in Public Policy and an MA in Sociology. She has worked in land use planning, affordable housing, and with at-risk youth. She is a long time Sacramento resident and an activist for peace, justice and the environment. She can be reached at SaveSacramentoNeighborhoods@gmail.com.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

44 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    In fact, eliminating single family zoning by allowing upzoning to 6 units (four-plexes plus two accessory dwelling units) will likely entice developers to go into less affluent communities, like Oak Park and buy up single family houses to convert to market rate apartments, exacerbating gentrification and displacement of current residents.

    And a primary reason that this is occurring is due to the planned “Aggie Square”. Hence, the lawsuit.

    It’s also the same, underlying reason for the situation in San Francisco (as acknowledged in the YIMBY article, yesterday). That is, adding jobs in an area with limited housing – often resulting in displacement of existing populations.

    From yesterday’s article:

    A recent report from the Manhattan Institute found that the San Francisco metropolitan area created nearly 3.5 jobs for every housing permit issued from 2009 to 2018.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Of course, in places like Davis, such pursuits are used to justify subsequent sprawl and attacks on Measure D, more so than infill.

      Usually with some line such as, “we need to do so, anyway”. Or, that adding even more jobs “won’t make any difference”.

      In other words, bald-faced lies – which contradicts their own evidence presented.

  2. Ron Glick

    “SB 10 would allow cities and counties to both:  approve up to 14 units on single family lots without environmental review and to undo voter-approved protection of open space and urban boundaries.”

    Is this the end of Measure D?

    What does that mean?

    Eric Gelber can you help me understand this language?

  3. Eric Gelber

    This is a highly misleading article, full of misrepresentations and false claims. For example:

    SB 9 would preempt local zoning by allowing up to 8 units on what is now one single family lot

    Wrong. SB 9 would allow at most 4 units on what is now a single family lot. If the lot is split, one duplex could be built on each new lot.

    SB 10 would allow cities and counties to both:  approve up to 14 units on single family lots without environmental review and to undo voter-approved protection of open space and urban boundaries.

    Wrong. SB 10 would authorize a city or county to pass an ordinance that is not subject to CEQA to upzone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density if the parcel is located in a transit-rich area or an urban infill site. Local governments can upzone under current law. SB 10 merely exempts upzoning from CEQA in very limited circumstances.

    Neither bill would “eliminate” existing single family zones or neighborhoods.

  4. Don Shor

    SB10:

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB10

     

    LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

     

    SB 10, as amended, Wiener. Planning and zoning: housing development: density.
    The Planning and Zoning Law requires a city or county to adopt a general plan for land use development within its boundaries that includes, among other things, a housing element. Existing law requires an attached housing development to be a permitted use, not subject to a conditional use permit, on any parcel zoned for multifamily housing if at least certain percentages of the units are available at affordable housing costs to very low income, lower income, and moderate-income households for at least 30 years and if the project meets specified conditions relating to location and being subject to a discretionary decision other than a conditional use permit. Existing law provides for various incentives intended to facilitate and expedite the construction of affordable housing.
    This bill would, notwithstanding any local restrictions on adopting zoning ordinances, authorize a local government to adopt an ordinance to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density per parcel, at a height specified in the ordinance, if the parcel is located in a transit-rich area or an urban infill site, as those terms are defined. The bill would prohibit a local government from adopting an ordinance pursuant to these provisions on or after January 1, 2029. The bill would specify that an ordinance adopted under these provisions, and any resolution to amend the jurisdiction’s General Plan, ordinance, or other local regulation adopted to be consistent with that ordinance, is not a project for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act. The bill would prohibit an ordinance adopted under these provisions from superceding a local restriction enacted or approved by a local voter initiative that designates publicly owned land as open-space land or for park or recreational purposes.
    The bill would impose specified requirements on a zoning ordinance adopted under these provisions, including a requirement that the zoning ordinance clearly demarcate the areas that are subject to the ordinance and that the legislative body make a finding that the ordinance is consistent with the city or county’s obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. The bill would require an ordinance to be adopted by a 2/3 vote of the members of the legislative body if the ordinance supersedes any zoning restriction established by local voter initiative.
    The bill would prohibit an ordinance adopted under these provisions from reducing the density of any parcel subject to the ordinance and would prohibit a legislative body from subsequently reducing the density of any parcel subject to the ordinance. The bill would prohibit a residential or mixed-use residential project consisting of 10 or more units that is located on a parcel zoned pursuant to these provisions from being approved ministerially or by right or from being exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, except as specified.
    This bill would include findings that changes proposed by this bill address a matter of statewide concern rather than a municipal affair and, therefore, apply to all cities, including charter cities.

     

    DIGEST KEY

  5. Ron Oertel

    Don:  The bill would prohibit an ordinance adopted under these provisions from superceding a local restriction enacted or approved by a local voter initiative that designates publicly owned land as open-space land or for park or recreational purposes.

    Livable California:  Livable California has compiled a partial list, below, of citizen-approved ballot measures that are law in California. These ballot measures protect from over-development vast amounts of private land including shorelines, canyons, urban boundaries, open space, historic districts and neighborhoods.

    Please contact us at contact@livableca.org to alert us to voter-approved land protection measures not listed below. We will update as info arrives.

    So according to this, it could impact far-more communities than Measure D than does.

    And if that happens, it exposes Scott Weiner’s efforts as nothing more than an outright lie, regarding infill vs. sprawl.  As if it isn’t already, especially in a state that’s no longer growing.

    That guy should be removed from office, as well as Newsom.  Suggest looking at who is supporting them, as well.

    So, I guess Ron G. is overjoyed.

    https://www.livablecalifornia.org/sb-10-would-let-california-city-councils-undo-voter-approved-land-protections-sb-10-fact-sheet/

     

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      Forgot to note this, from the source above:

      SB 10 does two things: First, it lets city councils overturn voter-approved ballot measures that protect from overdevelopment local farmland, urban boundaries, shorelines, canyons — or that protect neighborhoods from overdevelopment by enacting height limits or other concepts.

      So as Dirty Harry might say, “do you feel lucky”?

      “Well, do you . . .”?

      Or more accurately, do you feel “lucky” regarding the future of California (including the environment itself), with the “current team” in office?

      Again, one has to examine the corrupting influences of those supporting the current crop. Take a look at the list of lobbyists in Sacramento. Many of those incumbents are saying “hold my beer”, in regard to the U.S. Congress. And yes – that includes Democrats. (Of course, we already knew that in regard to UCD’s “College Democrats”.)

  6. Ron Glick

    “The bill would require an ordinance to be adopted by a 2/3 vote of the members of the legislative body if the ordinance supersedes any zoning restriction established by local voter initiative.”

    Does this mean that Measure D could be overridden by a 2/3 vote of the CC?

    1. Eric Gelber

      I wouldn’t think so. Measure D applies to open space and agricultural lands. SB 10 applies to parcels located in a transit-rich areas or urban infill sites.

    2. Bill Marshall

      To get to 67%, would require a least a 4-1 vote of CC… ain’t a happening thing with the current CC, particularly now that we have district elections… the CC members either have higher political aspirations (could name 1-2, but won’t), or whose egos want to be re-elected and play to ‘their “base”‘ (same)…

      It is what it is… more is the pity…

      Eric is also correct in so far as Measure D was not ‘citizen based initiative’… was put on the ballot by the CC… It is what it is… more is the pity…

    3. Ron Oertel

      Ron G:  That’s how it appears to me (and to Livable California).  As well as every other urban limit line and land preservation ordinance throughout California.
      https://www.livablecalifornia.org/sb-10-would-let-california-city-councils-undo-voter-approved-land-protections-sb-10-fact-sheet/

      Of course, it might also be unconstitutional, under California law:
      https://www.livablecalifornia.org/sb-10-is-unconstitutional/

      And prior to this point, it also apparently threatened publicly-owned land.  Which again shows you “where” Scott Wiener is coming from.

      Eric:  SB 10 applies to parcels located in a transit-rich areas or urban infill sites.

      If true, that would depend upon how those are defined.

        1. Ron Oertel

          That list is what keeps California Livable, and constrains (some) further sprawl.  Certainly not all continuing sprawl.

          I have a question for the housing advocates, though.  At what point do you believe that there is no longer a “housing shortage”?  How exactly are you defining this?  And, is it “by location” (e.g., in some areas of the state, but not others)?

          I read somewhere that there’s enough vacant houses in Los Angeles, to house all of Los Angeles’ homeless population. So, wouldn’t that mean that there’s “plenty” of housing available there, if one is going to use homelessness as the measuring stick?

          Some people also have second (or even third) homes .  And like vehicles, you can only occupy one-at-a-time. In any case, are these included in the “inventory” of existing housing?

          Is anyone actually “counting” the number of existing units, compared to the total population (which is no longer growing)? Of course, even that would not be straightforward, as not all units are the same size.

          I have another question, as well.  Why do the housing advocates believe that the “market” isn’t already functioning as intended?  That is, when housing becomes too expensive in one area, folks move on to other areas?  What, exactly is “wrong” with that?  (That’s a lot of the reason that folks moved to Davis and the region years ago – and is continuing, from more expensive areas.)  And it’s a reason that some are moving to places like Austin (which is experiencing its own significant rise in housing costs).

          Also – check out the planned house, below.  Do you think this is helping to solve the “housing shortage”?  🙂 Though I must say that I’m happy that they’re at least donating a couple of other small parcels to the park service.

          Sausalito City Council rejects appeal to halt home construction on Wolfback Ridge (marinij.com)

    1. Keith Olsen

      While the dye, or should I say die, may be cast

      If the Democrats push this through it could be their death at the ballot box.

      We can only hope!

  7. Ron Oertel

    Since this article primarily relates to single-family dwellings, the most important point it makes is probably this one:

    The truth is that redlining and racist Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions caused discrimination in housing, NOT single family zoning or neighborhoods.

    The truth is that folks (of any skin color) will generally pick single-family dwellings over other options, for a variety of reasons (including having more space, a yard, a place to park their vehicles, no “physically-connected” neighbors, etc.). And they will continue to seek it, wherever it’s provided. (And plenty of communities in California are continuing to do so, despite the fact that the state’s population is no longer actually increasing. For the most part, they’re simply moving out of denser areas.)

    In fact, the real estate industry (and the government itself) literally promotes this as the “American Dream”.  Or, is it the “California Dream”, as alluded to the other day on here?

    But it is the most damaging option to the environment (as well as traffic, etc.), in regard to continuing sprawl.

    1. David Greenwald

       The truth is that redlining and racist Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions caused discrimination in housing, NOT single family zoning or neighborhoods”

      Single family zoning plays a role in keeping de facto segregation in residential neighborhoods by pricing lower income people out of whole neighborhoods.  Ignoring that point ignores a key factor of what is perpetuating the cycle.

      1. Alan Miller

        Expensive automobiles play a role in keeping de facto segregation in auto purchases by pricing lower income people out of whole dealerships.  Ignoring that point ignores a key factor of what is perpetuating the cycle.

        1. Richard_McCann

          Alan M

          Referring to autos is a false comparison because what auto you own does not affect your access to the local services and amenities attached to the house external to the property. Perhaps the biggest gain is the improved education from living in a higher value neighborhood. (I address this separately in another comment.) In addition living in a higher income neighborhood expands your economic opportunities–it’s virtuous cycle.

        2. Alan Miller

          True on access, but there will always be neighborhoods that are much shˆttier than others, and that is determined either by income or lottery.  In other words, only a small number of low income people will leave low income areas without money; in other words, not ‘everyone can live in Davis’.  So, do we set up giant bureaucracies to allow lottery winners and those who have waited in line for years to live in an ‘affordable’ unit which will still always be a tiny percentage of a more expensive community, meanwhile displacing – not the rich – but those of a slightly higher income, usually the working poor. 

          Allowing a small number of subsidized ‘lucky winner’ individuals to live subsidized in a more expensive community does not eliminate the crappy conditions or significantly improve or decrease the populations of the lower-income areas they leave.  Therefore, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in infrastructure in low-income areas to improve the conditions there, rather than forever subsidizing a small subset of ‘lucky winnners’ forever with rent?  As well, haven’t we all known, or been ourselves, people who are afraid to go over the ‘subsidy line’ on their income because they will lose their subsidized housing or subsidized income?  It all becomes a game on how to scam the system.

        3. Richard_McCann

          Alan

          First I agree the Affordable housing is largely a waste of effort to provide affordable housing to the vast population that needs it. But that’s not what this discussion about. It’s not about that program. It’s about making more of the housing in a community affordable which largely has to be done by increasing the housing supply.

          As for reaching out to other programs, living in a community is much more about the housing and even the infrastructure. It’s about the people who live in that community, and the fact is that if you live around wealthier people you will have a better opportunity to be wealthier. Even more importantly, it is important to live in a community of more educated people to improve the education of the children in the community. We can only achieve this more broadly by integrating our communities, and the first step in that process is reducing the economic barrier to less privileged groups for entering better resourced communities.

      2. Ron Oertel

        David: That would depend on both the city and the neighborhood, would it not?

        For example, Oak Park has lots of single-family dwellings (which are increasing in value), as alluded to in the article.  So does Stockton.

        There are places in the Bay Area which have significant populations of “people of color” who own single-family dwellings, and those houses aren’t cheap.  Probably a lot more expensive per square-foot than the new development in Folsom, which has “jumped” Highway 50.

        Every city, county, region, and state throughout the country has vastly-different prices for housing.  That is a direct result of the capitalistic system that we live in.

        But it is interesting that you mention “income”, since that’s where any discrepancies actually originate from.

        In any case, cities are not going to be able to lower housing prices via wholesale redevelopment of existing single-family neighborhoods.  That’s an enormous, expensive undertaking – which also inevitably increases the value of the underlying land, itself.

        I just saw Alan’s point, as I was typing this. Yes – it’s essentially the same thing, regarding anything to which a price is attached.

        1. Keith Olsen

          I think it’s justified that anyone of any race who buys a house in a SFR zoned area can expect the zoning not to be changed at a later date.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Both you and ACM have admitted my point – you just think it’s justified.

          I said nothing about “justification”, nor do I even know what “it” is, regarding whatever you’re referring to.

          Are you referring to a justification for the capitalistic system? If so, you might be asking the wrong person. It seems to work well in some ways, but maybe not other ways. Regardless, that’s probably a lengthy topic to get into.

          1. David Greenwald

            For the record, I wasn’t asking… My point in reference to Alan Miller’s comment which you explicitly endorsed.

        3. Ron Oertel

          My point in reference to Alan Miller’s comment which you explicitly endorsed.

          I didn’t “endorse” it, though it’s a fact that high-end car dealerships “discriminate” against those without enough money to patronize their stores.  Truth be told, they’d probably take one look at the vehicle I’m currently driving (along with my clothing) to make a “determination regarding eligibility” – regardless of the color of my skin. And they would be correct, though I’m not much interested in those vehicles anyway.

          The same is true for high-end housing developments, and for stores such as Neiman-Marcus.  (Though some have found a way around the latter.)  🙂

          The wine industry also comes to mind (e.g., visiting high-end wineries).

          In any case, this would take awhile, to discuss in full.

          But that “discrimination” is based upon the color of money, not skin color.  Of course, some make assumptions regarding the amount of money you have, based upon skin color.

          But these are observations, not endorsements.

        4. David Greenwald

          You said: “ I just saw Alan’s point, as I was typing this. Yes – it’s essentially the same thing, regarding anything to which a price is attached”

          I read “yes- it’s essentially the same thing…” as you agreeing with the point. That’s all for me for now.

        5. Ron Oertel

          Again, it’s an observation regarding how our system works. That’s what I was “agreeing” with.

          I see both benefits and drawbacks regarding the system, itself.

          Of course, “discrepancies” arise because not everyone has the same amount of money, nor do they use it in the same way. (Again, a very lengthy topic.)

          Well, I’m off to buy a Mercedes (or maybe a Porsche). Right after my world travels, staying at high-end hotels. Flying first-class (or on my private jet), of course. 🙂

  8. Ron Oertel

    Richard to Alan M:  Referring to autos is a false comparison because what auto you own does not affect your access to the local services and amenities attached to the house external to the property. Perhaps the biggest gain is the improved education from living in a higher value neighborhood. (I address this separately in another comment.) In addition living in a higher income neighborhood expands your economic opportunities–it’s virtuous cycle.

    It is true that autos are moveable, and houses generally aren’t.  However, this is also a reason for the “extra” funding that lower-performing school districts receive.  And in the case of Davis, the school district allows out-of-district enrollments, regardless.

    Of course, the “truly” privileged send their kids to private schools, especially in already-expensive areas such as San Francisco.  Which ironically – has a dysfunctional public school system, despite the city’s high housing prices.

    But more importantly, your line of thinking would necessitate wholesale abandonment of lower-income areas, for higher income areas.  With some (no doubt) “left behind”, and unable to do so.

    I guess the entire state should move into Marin county (for example), according to this argument.  (Again, with the exception of those “left behind”.)

    And last time I checked, economic opportunities were (also) not necessarily limited to residents. If that was the case, Marin county would be quite destitute, as there aren’t that many high-paying jobs, there. It is largely dependent upon San Francisco.

    (As are many of the bedroom communities around Sacramento dependent upon that city, in terms of employment for its residents.)

    1. Richard_McCann

      Ron O

      Davis has among the lowest per student funding in the state, yet has the highest educational performance in the region. There’s no extra funding here–its driven entirely by household education and income. No amount of school spending can overcome that advantage.

      Economic opportunities are created by your network of neighbors, friends and acquaintances. So in Marin, you are much more likely to get a job in a downtown SF financial firm than if you live in West Oakland. Thus location is a significant contributor to economic opportunity. It takes a range of pathways–why foreclose one to a particular group who can’t afford to live in an advantaged community?

      These policy changes are about spreading out the opportunities and diluting the pockets where opportunities are so few. These will not result in either/or outcomes, but will change the distribution.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Davis has among the lowest per student funding in the state, yet has the highest educational performance in the region.

        I don’t follow this as closely as some, but I believe that Roseville (for example) has a pretty good school system.  Possibly Folsom, as well.

        There’s no extra funding here–its driven entirely by household education and income. No amount of school spending can overcome that advantage.

        Again, San Francisco has a dysfunctional public school system, despite its high housing prices and income levels.  As a result, many of the more “privileged” families who remain there send their kids to private schools.  I previously posted a link to an article from the Chronicle, regarding that.

        But it is interesting that you believe that increased school funding does not achieve better results.  That’s a pretty conservative point of view, perhaps (to some degree) backed-up by the results in San Francisco.

        Economic opportunities are created by your network of neighbors, friends and acquaintances.

        Personally, I have never gotten a job that way.  I believe there’s a word for this type of “connection”, and it’s not necessarily a positive (or fair) one. Nor does it necessarily result in the best candidate for an employer.

        So in Marin, you are much more likely to get a job in a downtown SF financial firm than if you live in West Oakland.

        Probably true.  So, are you suggesting abandoning Oakland, and moving everyone to Marin?

        Thus location is a significant contributor to economic opportunity. It takes a range of pathways–why foreclose one to a particular group who can’t afford to live in an advantaged community?

        There’s quite a few assumptions embedded in that comment.

        These policy changes are about spreading out the opportunities and diluting the pockets where opportunities are so few. These will not result in either/or outcomes, but will change the distribution.

        “Diluting the pockets” apparently means abandoning large swaths of cities around the state, except for those who are unable to do so.  With a result similar to Detroit (though I understand that city has made a limited comeback.)

        My last comment in this article, for today.

        1. Richard_McCann

          I don’t follow this as closely as some, but I believe that Roseville (for example) has a pretty good school system.  Possibly Folsom, as well.

          And your point of comparing Davis to other well off communities is….?

          That you have an anecdote that you apparently haven’t gotten a job through a connection is meaningless against the data that shows that this is an important employment pathway. One anecdote does not refute a body of data (unless you’re Ron O). Here’s good one:

          New Survey Reveals 85% of All Jobs are Filled Via Networking

          https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler/
          https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/27/how-to-get-a-job-often-comes-down-to-one-elite-personal-asset.html

          So what assumptions are embedded in my statement that we should foreclose economic opportunity pathways to certain groups?

          So you propose that we should perpetuate the segregation of ghettos so that you can preserve your mythical vision of Davis? I am proposing more mixing of communities. That eventually means more back and forth flows. But the first step is to reduce the barriers of entry to well off communities to less privileged groups. Or do you propose to perpetuate those barriers so that we can keep them in their existing communities? The segregationist implications of your statements are amazing.

           

        2. Ron Oertel

          Since I’m already at 5 comments (or beyond, for the day), I’ll plan to respond tomorrow.

          Same “bat-time”, same “bat-channel” (for those old enough to remember that, either first-hand or via re-runs).

          Of course, this might also “count” as a response, if you want to get technical.

          But I’m no “segregationist” (via skin color, or any of the other categories). That is not my “thing”.

        3. Ron Oertel

          So, I’m back – as promised.

          And your point of comparing Davis to other well off communities is….?

          You’re the one who brought it up, in regard to Davis’ school system.  My comment was in response to that.

          That you have an anecdote that you apparently haven’t gotten a job through a connection is meaningless against the data that shows that this is an important employment pathway. One anecdote does not refute a body of data (unless you’re Ron O).
          Here’s good one:

          New Survey Reveals 85% of All Jobs are Filled Via Networking
          https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler/

          You believe that a survey (in which an unknown number did not even respond) by a company that provides online networking services is a “good one”?

          But perhaps more importantly, do you believe that customers of Linked-In live within the same city in the first place?

          So what assumptions are embedded in my statement that we should foreclose economic opportunity pathways to certain groups?

          I did not say that, regarding your comments.  But, you’re falsely claiming that about my comments, in your very next sentence:

          So you propose that we should perpetuate the segregation of ghettos so that you can preserve your mythical vision of Davis?

          Normally, the term “ghettos” is frowned-upon on here.  Also, I have no idea what you’re referring to regarding “mythical vision of Davis”.

          I am proposing more mixing of communities. That eventually means more back and forth flows.

          Normally, the only time that folks return to a struggling neighborhood (from one that is not) is when that neighborhood is gentrifying.

          Or do you propose to perpetuate those barriers so that we can keep them in their existing communities?

          My comment was an observation, not an advocacy.  I don’t believe that replacing single-family dwellings in mass (or even sporadically) creates affordability, which is the barrier that I assume you’re referring to.  For that matter, I also don’t believe that a sprawling peripheral development creates more affordability.  (One only has to look at prices in The Cannery, regarding that.)

          The segregationist implications of your statements are amazing.

          Unlike you, I am not proposing wholesale abandonment of what you term as “ghettos”.

        4. Keith Olsen

          You believe that a survey (in which an unknown number did not even respond) by a company that provides online networking services is a “good one”?

          Ron, as one often encounters on the Vanguard, their studies, polls and surveys are always legit, your studies, polls and surveys are always unreliable.

  9. Richard_McCann

    Unfortunately, the author of this article appears to be poorly informed about the many aspects of this issue:

    – Zoning restrictions have increased housing prices. This is well documented with the most recent study here: https://www.nber.org/papers/w28993. This study contradicts references to Chris Jones’ papers with a much more rigorous data set.

    – Racial covenants were eliminated 50 years ago, yet housing segregation is now rising across 80% of US communities. The source of this segregation is that Black households have only 10% of the wealth of white ones so they can’t afford to buy in the communities where zoning has increased prices: https://belonging.berkeley.edu/roots-structural-racism

    – Lost open space is caused by increased housing and commercial development sprawl. If instead a community increased density, then the demand for housing will decrease and open space will be preserved through economic forces, not explicit land purchases.

    – Educational attainment is largely driven by the characteristics of the community and not by money spent in the system. For example, Davis has among the lowest per student funding levels in the state because of our community income levels and other positive factors. Yet we have the highest student attainment of any district in the state. That’s driven by the fact that the average household education level is a masters degree. In addition, most of a student’s success is driven by their mother’s education level. When we shut certain ethnic groups out of a community through policies that drive up prices, we are also suppressing their educational opportunities.

    – Increased density will be necessary to reduce GHG emissions to mitigate the impending climate emergency. The Cool Climate Network that shows this relationship: https://coolclimate.org/maps

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for