Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Affordable Housing, It's the Right Thing to Do

Another opinion piece in the IJ about Marin's obstinate refusal to build its state mandated "fair share" of affordable housing. This time Sausalito, Fairfax, and Larkspur are put under the spotlight.

Like a spoiled and self-indulgent child, it seems that we have to be forced to do it.

This quote jumped out at me:
Over the years, [Marin] cities and towns have approved plans for sales-tax-rich shopping centers, revenue-generating hotels and business campuses, but they have shown less interest in providing housing for workers who fill the jobs created by those projects.
In other words, Marin has no problem whatsoever building property that generates lots and lots of sales tax and we don't seem to care one whit about its resulting increase in traffic. Yet when it comes to building affordable housing, of which roughly 58% of the occupants would work within 10 minutes of the jobs located on the sales-tax-rich property (according to the opinion piece), suddenly the increase in traffic argument kills the deal.

Another argument we Marinites like to pull out and dust off at times like these is The Environment... building affordable houses (but not unaffordable houses it seems) causes an increase in traffic, more pollution, loss of open space, etc. and therefore it is bad for the environment. But if we really were the environmentalists we like to think of ourselves as, then building affordable housing would be seen as the environmentally-friendly policy that it is due to the vastly shortened commutes to Marin and San Francisco jobs.

But of course, these sorts of argument are moot here in fantasy land. The real reason why Marinites are opposed to building the state mandated amount of affordable housing is their perceived loss in property values. Never mind the actual validity of such a concern as we all know that in Marin increased property value is our god-given right and we cannot do anything that might, no matter how improbable, threaten those property values.

And yes, I know Marin is not unique with regards to this form of hypocrisy; I don't pretend that it is. But that doesn't make it right and that does not mean we shouldn't bring public attention to it at every available opportunity.

Besides, given our proximity to San Francisco, a major employment center, it's the right thing to do.

Hypocrisy can only exist in a moral world. If we are not being hypocritical, does that mean we are an amoral county? Ok, now I am being weird; I admit existentialism isn't my thing; just a random, passing thought while closing this post.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What About the 'We're Rich' Argument?

  • Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach)
  • Ed McMahon
  • Evander Holyfield
  • Michael Jackson
  • Letrell Sprewell
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Jose Conseco
All are very wealthy individuals, all are living in "special" places, all have multi-million dollar mortgages, and all are foreclosing. There will be more.

Wealthy individuals can buy more expensive houses and have more assets to draw from, but they can be just as "stretched" as any working class nine-to-fiver as they are just as susceptible to societal pressure to buy more than they need, to "keep up with the Joneses", to obtain bragging rights to their friends and family, etc.

At the very least my hope is that the pain from the housing bubble bust, and the public record provided by the housing bubble blogs, will finally and once and for all teach people to ignore all the easy, self-serving, "rational" sounding "explanations" realtors/agents, etc., peddle to the gullible masses to keep them buying and so mindlessly and willingly paying ridiculously high prices. My hope is that realtors/agents will finally and once and for all be discredited as definitive sources of real estate related information.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Map of Prime-Rated Loan Foreclosures

sf jack spotted this graphic showing areas where prime loans are starting to blow up:

Yes, Marin is one of them. If you are having trouble seeing that our tiny county is one of many in the most distressed category, according to this analysis, here's a closer view:

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