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.


Blogger Unknown said...

My family lives in Half Moon Bay where the average home price is around $800k. And I see the same B.S. there. People always try to smoke screen their true intentions of keeping their quaint little towns small and undeveloped by citing numerous environmental concerns. The sad this is that most people are too scared to even question their assertions that we need to protect the red legged frog from development. My own dad is on the coastal commission that constantly tries to stop any sort of development on the San Mateo coast. Its more than apparent from talking with him why he truly doesn't want more development. And its not the environment. Nimbyism is alive and well and people have absolutely no shame in using environmentalism to move along their own agendas to keep others out.

Jun 10, 2008, 8:30:00 PM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

The "environment" argument is so overused because its sanctity is unassailable: "what, how dare you suggest those cow pastures could become new communities?" That now-fetid "red herring" is dragged out once again, and after much hand-wringing and pontification, those who wish to retain their sanity opt-out from the discussion altogether.
I suspect this will attitude will drag on for years because those firmly planted on their holdings don't want change, and are unwilling to share anything under the guise of "environmentalism".

Jun 10, 2008, 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

"Another argument we Marinites like to pull out and dust off at times like these is The Environment...

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..."


In most of the San Francisco Bay Area, it appears to me that it is standard behavior to wish to "be like" (or at least promulgate the policies of) Al Gore or John Kerry in public... but to act in private as if an Ayn Rand disciple.

It's quite a dichotomy.

Jun 11, 2008, 9:43:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

If you think Marin is bad, you should check out Alameda. Every few years, proposals are made to change their own NIMBY law- Measure A, which prohibits building multi-family dwellings or homes on smaller lot sizes, which as you can imagine has meant that homes have skyrocketed in value.

The same argument is made anytime new housing is suggested: Traffic, the environment, and so on. People have huge signs in their yards that scream: KEEP MEASURE A: low density=Less Traffic.

But... here's the thing. Alameda in the not-so-distant-past was a naval base. At one time, close to 100,000 additional people lived in the city as sailors and aeronautic mechanics. Thus at one time there was a lot more traffic. It also helps to note that the naval base was a giant landing strip and dock for naval ships. So you can imagine the amount of pollution those planes and ships produced.Nobody seemed to mind it back then, but suddenly now that there's no longer a military base, people simply can't deal with the idea of anyone new moving in ( as long as they got there first)

I've given up on Alameda or any of the BA cities to ever change unless the generation that passed these laws dies out. Hopefully they haven't passed this sentiment onto the newer residents.

Jun 11, 2008, 9:52:00 AM  
Blogger Rob Dawg said...

All this angst over preserving existing land use configurations. Where's my government mandated affordable gasoline? Where's the difference?

Jun 11, 2008, 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

The other day I added a comment to the IJ's opinion piece and provided a link back to this post. I checked to see if the comment got published; it was. Now I go to the IJ's site and see the comment is gone. Not surprising that the IJ would do that. Heaven forbid if this blog got even more exposure.

Jun 12, 2008, 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

Well, one difference is that most people don't consider gasoline a form of shelter.

In any case, Rob Dawg, I do have issues with particular froms of government regulated housing and cannot completely agree with the statement "It's the Right Thing to Do."

Rather than regulation, if housing in Marin was as much a "free market" as gasoline in America, there'd be more housing in Marin and it would be less costly for all.

So my "angst over preserving exsiting land use configurations" centers on the use of the environment as an excuse for regulatory action that serves to keep people out of Marin and house prices higher.

Jun 12, 2008, 2:09:00 PM  
Blogger bob said...

I too like the idea of the housing supply being more of a free market consumer good just like everything else.
But the bigger picture to all of this is that as long as people keep right on producing children, the world population is going to keep on growing. As that occurs, naturally those children grow up and want homes for themselves. So unless some sort of horribly catastrophic natural event occurs that "corrects" the population, then the need for creating more space is going to be a never ending quest.

In regards to places like the BA, which have regulations that prevent growth, thinly veiled as some sort of environmental protection plan, in my opinion such measures lead to social and economic unrest. You simply cannot prevent growth through supply manipulation and preventative measures. The outcome ultimately takes form in the severe economic backlash we see now, which is to say that regardless of how high prices got, people bought to the point of committing financial suicide.

So in the aftermath of such an event as the housing bubble, cities like Marin, Alameda, Berkeley, and SF need to examine proper ways to facilitate housing growth that translates into a more stable economic and social environment.

Jun 13, 2008, 7:42:00 AM  
Blogger beebs said...

It's simple. Affordable housing is code for "those people" living in our neighborhoods.

I could be wrong.

Jun 13, 2008, 2:31:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

Is the recession here yet?

Was there a bubble in Marin housing?

Here's a real Marin housing story that I heard today.

(What's the price of the cheapest house in Kentfield? What's it cost per square foot? What's the household median income?)

Apparently, a ("house poor"?) Kentfield house owner wants to host his parents and another relative, who are traveling from the Midwest, for a week in August this summer.

Since, one can imagine, the younger couple lives in a million dollar crapshack in Kentfield (a very small crapshack, I suppose), the parents are considering staying in tents (!) in the yard for the duration.

Not only that, because the place is so small and the bathroom difficult to get to...(access through a bedroom?) they are also trying to figure out how, or if they should, rent out a porto-toilet kind of thing for their stay.

There was also apparently discussion of renting an RV, but there are not hookups for that kind of thing in yards in Kentfield. They are seriously comparing the costs of these various options versus staying in a local hotel.

Imagine that!?! In Marin!

Have your parents visit from across the country and have them sleep in tents in the yard...

Imagine that!?! And only in Marin!

Jun 13, 2008, 9:45:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Sausalito re-classified 10% of the marina berths as low cost housing. and hey presto they met their goal - never mind the fact that more than 10% were already occupied by liveaboards.

Jun 14, 2008, 9:00:00 PM  
Blogger zarkov01 said...

I guess "affordable" housing actually means cheap housing because any house that's not affordable will remain unsold. So how to we get cheap housing in Marin? Obviously by increasing population density, but one of the attractions of Marin is the low population density. Does anyone think that a high population density would make Marin a more pleasant place for those already living there? Of course not. So it is not logical for the current residents to oppose increasing the housing supply? Being close to SF is a benefit for anyone working in the city, and as such this increases home prices. Higher gas prices means the utility of living near the city is even greater and that too will increase prices.

Jun 14, 2008, 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

Fortunately, it does not matter what the current residents want. The state has mandated "fair share" rules. Marin is playing disgraceful games to get around those rules and the example of Sausalito attests. Of course, better commuter transit would alleviate some of the need. But of course, Marin opposes that too!

Jun 16, 2008, 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

"Higher gas prices means the utility of living near the city is even greater and that too will increase prices."

That is what the RE agents are saying.
I'm still trying to do the math.
What would the price per gallon have to be to make it worth the "premium" prices here?
My best guess is $20 per gallon.

In that case, the house would pay for itself in no time.

Jun 18, 2008, 1:54:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Marin's May numbers are out. Median was up, but sales were down almost 40% versus a year ago. Wow. Sounds like we're just as dependent on easy credit as every other place. Take away NINJA financing, and hardly anyone can afford to buy here. I know we're all shocked -);

Jun 18, 2008, 2:47:00 PM  
Blogger zarkov01 said...

"What would the price per gallon have to be to make it worth the "premium" prices here?
My best guess is $20 per gallon."

Let's do the math, but just the fuel savings would not explain the price differential. You commute time is also worth something.

Assuming an average gas consumption of 20 mpg and 250 round trips to work per year we get $25 per mile per dollar per year. Calculating the present value for 30 years and discounting money at 5%, we get about $400 per dollar per mile. That means each mile of driving saved should add $400 to the selling price of a house per dollar increase in the cost of fuel. Thus for a home 40 miles out, adding $4 to the cost of fuel translates into an additional $64,500. Of course this does not explain the difference in cost between Marin and a property 40 miles north of Marin. There are many other factors.

Jun 19, 2008, 9:46:00 AM  
Blogger zarkov01 said...

"Fortunately, it does not matter what the current residents want. The state has mandated "fair share" rules."

California's "fair share" mandate is unreasonable. Living in a place like Sausalito is in the nature of a luxury good. Just as one does not starve if denied caviar, no one has to live in Sausalito. It's perfectly rational for the current Marin residents to oppose an increase in population density and a decrease in their quality of life just to make cheap housing available. You propose to degrade one of the major attributes that makes Marin attractive in the first place. Another expression of this mentality is section 8 housing. I witnessed the crime rise (from zero) in the development next to where I worked from section 8 housing, and my perception is backed up by crime data from across the country.

Jun 19, 2008, 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

California's "fair share" mandate is unreasonable.


Living in a place like Sausalito is in the nature of a luxury good.


Jun 19, 2008, 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

Furthermore, using your logic "a.", the people who generally need to live in places like Sausalito (really anywhere in S. Marin) are the people who need to commute to SFO. The people who generally do not need to commute live in Sausalito. Furthermore density issues are the result of Marin's own shortsighteness by virtue of closing off roughly 80% off the county to development and constraining residential building to a very narrow corridor.

For the most part Marin residents, or at least Marin voters, are a group of spoiled children who want their cake and eat it too.

Further falacious reasoning on your part "a" is trying to equate section 8 housing with "affordable housing". Why shouldn't housing be affordable to working class people who are "of the sort" to work for a living and not engage in crime?

Using the environment, density, luxury, etc. is red herring. The real issue has always been property values which I for one have very little sympathy.

Jun 19, 2008, 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger zarkov01 said...

"Further falacious reasoning on your part "a" is trying to equate section 8 housing with "affordable housing". Why shouldn't housing be affordable to working class people who are "of the sort" to work for a living and not engage in crime?"

All housing is "affordable" by someone, otherwise the house is not marketable. You really mean cheap housing, and you want a form of price control by forcing a community to mandate more construction with price limitations on some units.

Section 8 housing provides for rent caps based on a defined "fair market rent." How is not analogous to California "fair share" mandates for price and rent caps?

While not all residents of section 8 housing are criminals, unfortunately some are-- enough to change the crime rates in nearby housing.

Jun 19, 2008, 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Holland said...

With housing development control, most people in Marin are stuck with 50 years old or older houses. This really creates health problem. How many people got sick by living in those old and moldy houses? Why can't the younger generation have the opportunities to choose modern and well constructed houses? Why do we have to suffer just because some selfish people want to reap the benefits of the price appreciation? I hope people in Marin come to their senses and make demands for allowing better quality of houses to be built at reasonable prices.

Jun 19, 2008, 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

"you want a form of price control by forcing a community to mandate more construction with price limitations on some units."


No, I don't favor these.

Just more units of housing, of all kinds - let developers build them and sell them at market rates.

And, of course, within reasonable laws regarding the environment... and not the kind that support rampant NIMBYism.

[Also note that California's summer energy usage would be reduced if more residents lived near the coast]

Jun 20, 2008, 3:30:00 PM  
Blogger Thus Spake Z said...

Responding to holland:
1. People are not getting sick by living in 50 year old houses.
2. The younger generation can choose to live in modern well constructed houses (whatever you mean by that is probably different that what any 10 other people might mean... for me a 50 year old house is plenty modern and well constructed) by paying the price to do so (either high prices here or by moving where the cost is less... try Spokane for example).
3. The reason for "suffering," whatever that means, has very little to do with individuals having the benefits of price appreciation. And why is it selfish to have taken a risk to buy a home (and it is a risk, even when buying as a home and not an invesement) and then to get to have economic benefit? Should they give it to you? If you are advocating socialism be clear that is what you are proposing... and if so that is another subject entirely. I suspect you are just being selfish...
4. *Sigh* Your statement about people in Marin coming to their senses and allowing a better quality of houses to be built at reasonable prices is flawed on so many levels it is hard to know where to start responding.
-Better quality of houses implies something about the quality of the existing housing stock in Marin County overall.. unless you define and limit the statement it is meaningless
-Ignoring the fact that "reasonable prices" is meaningless without definition, I suspect you know nothing about the economics of residential development. If you did you would know why the cost of development leads to the basic price of housing, although it is a given that there is profit involved (hmmm... there's that evil developer or investor trying to get a return on their time, money and expertise at risk) which drives up prices. A great deal of it of it is government regulation... a good thing as it means we get construction that must be built to certain minimum standards and that we get uses compatible with their surroundings. Part of it is the cost of new infrastructure or paying its proportionate share of existing infrastructure (sewer, water, schools, public safety, etc.). In recent years the cost of construction materials, and the transport of them, has been a significant driver of new development cost. Quality of life for existing residents adds a cost in the form of environmental regulation, density control, property type allowed, hillside regulation, parks, libraries, etc. For those that want to live in a dense, highly developed community like San Jose, more power to you, go there. Many of us like living here and either got lucky or paid the price to do so, and a great deal of what we get is the character of the community.
Ultimately, the issue comes down to the fact that we can't all get whatever we want. If someone doesn't like it here (or can't afford it), because of the housing, prices, social culture or whatever, then they should move somewhere else where it all better meets their personal needs. And if that changes, I'll be first in line for the free Belvedere house with views, with fully stocked garage and free food for life cooked by my personal gourmet chef.

Jun 20, 2008, 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

Regarding the much-lauded "minimum standards" and infrastructure of Marin, I'm just curious--has anyone ever lived outside the Bay Area in a "nice community"? So, how does Marin compare to other communities--how well do you think that copious tax revenue used on local infrastructure? Personally, I see little upside to Marin in comparison to other local 'burbs.

Jun 21, 2008, 9:36:00 PM  
Blogger zarkov01 said...

For a discussion about the connection between section 8 housing and crime see this article in the Atlanic Monthly.


Jun 23, 2008, 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Thus Spake Z said...

Marin Explorer,

When I referenced government regulation requiring minimum standards I was not referencing Marin County in specific. The State requires construction to incorporate certain minimum standards (e.g., the UBC). There are also local codes that are typically more restrictive. Conforming to those standards equals a built-in cost, which is higher or lower depending on local labor costs, union or non-union, and material costs and availibility.

I wonder what you refer to when you say the "much lauded minimum standards and infrastructure of Marin." I have lived here over 30 years and don't recall much lauding of standards and infrastructure. In fact the usual comment is about the need for infrastructure improvement. Maybe you mean Marin zoning regulation?

Also, are you being sarcastic about spending copious tax revenue on infrastructure? Infrstructure spending is a issue nationally and globally. I suspect we are doing as well as other communities of similar demograpics. In some ways, spending on community spaces for example, we are probably doing better than many.

There are lots of nice communities outside Marin. Where they have equal or stronger development and construction standards the communities are beautiful and the quality of life is equal or better. Of course that usually goes along with higher housing prices. In places with significantly lower (or no) building standards you get houses, schools and hospitals collapsing during earthquakes and storms. In some otherwise beautiful places that don't have a strong history of zoning control, environmental protection and preservation of community character you have a chaotic, endless sea of vanilla, cartoonitechture development. Housing is often cheaper there...

Jun 23, 2008, 2:46:00 PM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

Mine was a simple, general question to no one in particular--whether a. you have lived in what you'd regard as a "nice community" outside Marin/CA and b. how Marin compares in regards to those communities, such as how their tax base reflects on local infrastructure.

I'm just looking for real experiences here, and I hardly care to engage point-by-point to anyone's monologue. I'm well aware how serious everyone takes themselves to prove the "special" nature of their 'burb. I'm irreverent because I've heard it all before.

After viewing dozens of $1M+ Marin homes and not caring for their build quality, overall state of repair, and supporting infrastructure--yeah, I'm sarcastic now. Some people seem to believe dry rot brings a special Marin "ambience" to the home. What frightening, overpriced maintenance headaches. And where does Marin's money go--certainly not in the roads.

If there's something "special" to Marin, I've concluded it's mostly in the minds of its residents, and not a paragon in any quantifiable sense. I've seen many Canadian logging towns with better civic planning, infrastructure, and overall upkeep. And they get real weather.

Jun 23, 2008, 5:07:00 PM  
Blogger bob said...

I'll chime in. I'm originally from TN. I lived in a somewhat rural area about 15 miles from Knoxville. The freeways seemed to get re-paved every 10 years and were in nearly perfect condition. The schools were mostly public and of good quality. There were numerous local and central libraries. Overall, I'd say the quality of the facilities and infrastructure were good. More recently, there has been a lot of newer developments, such as new public theaters, new libraries, a new stadium, several new experimental high schools that have college level programs, and a couple of new connecting interchanges for the freeways. The number of fine restaurants and museums has increased. There are now two breweries in Knoxville as well.

I've also spent the last few years investigating other cities such as Nashville, Atlanta, Raleigh, and even Huntsville,AL which I am seeing in a month. With the exception of perhaps Atlanta, what I saw in each case were fresh, developing, newer communities. There was a lot of new development and evidence of new business.

My conclusion is that I'm tired of all the bullshit in the Bay Area where people fight over what? Tiny little run-down homes perched on earthquake prone hillsides, with insane bumper-to-bumper traffic, hordes of people at every single line in the grocery stores, the snotty "holier than thou" attitudes, the myriads of old hippies worth a million just because of their Prop 13 protected houses, and corrupt government and politics that seem hell-bent on basically incrementally destroying the state.

But to be sure, the money is pretty good here. Hence it will serve me well when me and my Wife leave this place and buy somewhere else for cash and leave everyone else here to bicker over their little bungalows.

The "quality of life" in the BA is a joke. There is none. Sorry.

Jun 24, 2008, 2:58:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

I was introduced to a Marin realtor's spouse over the weekend.

Moving on to small talk, I assumptively said (perhaps suppressing a smirk), "hmm... a realtor? No recession in Marin then!?"

To which I heard, rather mutedly, "well, not yet... anyway."

[the honesty surprised me]

We then casually discussed the number of listings (of the spouse), how the coming environment *could* be like other recessions and how ZIRP might impact mortgages.

"Very hard to get one now... the banks are rejecting you for anything on your record."

Which basically tells me that those with faulty credit records, and probably not a lot of money down, are still trying to buy in Marin.

And some are being told to come back another day!

Jun 24, 2008, 6:38:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

Please post something.......
This thread is dead.

My impressions of the current Marin RE conditions.
Prices are flagging and there are many more hardship properties.

The agents are starting to admit the strain.

Big money properties are still selling, but there is a sense of impending loss.

Real Estate is linked to the general economy, even in Marin.

The times, they are a'changing.

Jun 30, 2008, 1:37:00 AM  
Blogger E said...

Stop all this Dodd-Shelby-Mozilo bailout nonsense and let prices return to reasonable levels. Then everything will be "affordable housing."

Jun 30, 2008, 5:10:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree with MountainWatcher....I think folks know the party's over...what remains to be seen is how hard Marin gets hit and for how long.

The IJ ran a story a few days ago about Marin agents using St. Joseph statues....here, in Marin, where it's so special and everyone who is rich wants to live here.

And at what point does the jingle mail start here? I can't imagine everyone who paid $800K+ for a POS during the boom will be happy paying that big mortgage with no hope of a pay-out.

Jun 30, 2008, 9:24:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

In today's SF Chronicle:

"So, if we're serious about doing our part to make a real dent in carbon emissions, what next?"


I noted earlier:

"Just more units of housing, of all kinds - let developers build them and sell them at market rates.

And, of course, within reasonable laws regarding the environment... and not the kind that support rampant NIMBYism.

[Also note that California's summer energy usage would be reduced if more residents lived near the coast]"

Jun 20, 2008 3:30:00 PM


"How global warming challenges the old Bay Area assumptions

By John King

San Francisco Chronicle - Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Repeat after me the first rule of environmental activism: "Think globally, act locally."

But wait. What do we do when global concerns are at odds with what we hold dear at home?

That question hangs over the Bay Area as surely as last week's smoke obscured our skies. The environmental agenda is being redefined by the very real threat of climate change. In the process, some of our basic articles of faith - such as keeping development away from the bays and the hills - could be called into question...

Pushing people away from the fog-cooled bay pushes up energy consumption, for starters. The typical Alameda County household consumes 429 kilowatt hours of electricity each month, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Head east to hotter San Joaquin County, where most new residential tracts house Bay Area workers, and the consumption is 630 kWh.

As for automobile use, the average drive for commuters from eastern Contra Costa County was a 40-mile round trip in the year 2000, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The average round-trip trek for San Mateo County residents was barely half that: 24 miles.

The easy reaction is to say that sprawl is bad, and that growth should be confined to new higher-density pockets within existing cities and suburbs. But that's hardly a cure-all.

Consider the planned transformation of San Mateo's Bay Meadows racetrack into a district with 1,200 homes. It took eight years to go from idea to final approvals, and a parcel that size is rare in older suburbs around the bay. Yet the Association of Bay Area Governments estimates the region needs roughly 25,000 new housing units each year to handle the anticipated population change.

And even if we froze things as they are, that wouldn't be enough.

"Our carbon footprint doesn't need to stop growing, it needs to shrink," Eddy said. Theoretically, he suggested, "One way to do that would be to bring every commuter in from the Central Valley, put them in the Bay Area and turn their homes back to farmland. And that's not a growth scenario."

Difficult questions

So, if we're serious about doing our part to make a real dent in carbon emissions, what next? Do we earmark some salt ponds for high-density housing? Develop portions of bucolic Marin County, which has added just 30,000 residents since 1980?

I don't have the answers. But I do know this: The questions are changing. And the stakes are high..."




Jul 1, 2008, 3:29:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

Please post something.
Even a picture of Nixon.
This thread is dead.

Jul 5, 2008, 2:10:00 AM  
Blogger Joan said...

OK, I'll bite.

Good article, good thread, but I'm surprised nobody has brought up two of the biggest problems: the everlasting disastrous effects of Prop 13 (state-initiated, to be fair), which constitutionally locked incentives for irresponsible development and Third World-level funding for the infrastructure of a nation-sized state, and Marin's terrible attitude towards new public transit, exemplified by multiple defeats of proposals to build light rail systems that would ease both the terrible environmental problems of 101 and the affordability of housing.

I grew up in Marin. I was educated in its public schools, learned to drive there, worked my first jobs there, still have immediate family there and still feel it's one of the prettiest places in the US. But I moved to NYC in the early 90s and never looked back. The classism and racism underlying Marin's attitudes about transportation and housing are entrenched and shameful, given its liberal self-regard. NYC has had to deal with more infrastructure problems than Marin will ever know, yet has the nation's best transit system, far more affordable housing, fewer obstructionist locals despite its enormous amount of landmark districts, and better long-term results regarding genuine environmental concerns.

Again, good blog.

Jul 8, 2008, 5:47:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

I'll bite (again!), too.

Perhaps no one has mentioned those subjects because they've previously been hashed about around here in 2006 and 2007, if not more recently.

My belief is that Prop 13 could be revised (alas, I'm not a house owner) and that rail transit will not be approved along the 101 corridor in my lifetime. The cost alone will scare voters and politicians senseless, never mind the "environmental concerns."

As for NYC, it's a great place because of its density - for which a modern infrastructure was built over the last what, 120 years? Would a city like that be built in the California we know today?

Just way too many NIMBY's!


"New York City's uniquely high rate of public transit use makes it one of the most energy-efficient cities in the United States. Gasoline consumption in the city today is at the rate of the national average in the 1920s.[8] New York City's high rate of transit use saved 1.8 billion gallons of oil in 2006 and $4.6 billion in gasoline costs. New York saves half of all the oil saved by transit nationwide.

The reduction in oil consumption meant 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution was kept out of the air.[9] The New York City metro area was ranked by the Brookings Institution as having the third lowest per-capita carbon footprint in 2005 among the 100 largest metro areas of the United States, outranked only by Honolulu and Los Angeles.[10]

The city's transportation system, and the population density it makes possible, also have other effects. Scientists at Columbia University examined data from 13,102 adults in the city's five boroughs and identified correlations between New York's built environment and public health. New Yorkers residing in densely populated, pedestrian-friendly areas have significantly lower body mass index (BMI) levels compared to other New Yorkers. Three characteristics of the city environment -- living in areas with mixed residential and commercial uses, living near bus and subway stops and living in population-dense areas -- were found to be inversely associated with BMI levels.[11]"



Jul 9, 2008, 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger zarkov01 said...

I was born, raised, educated and worked in NYC. I have also lived more than 20 years in the SF Bay Area.

First let's be realistic about NYC's transportation system. The current subway system was built over 80 years ago when labor was cheap and government regulations were few and far between. In the late 1960s NYC tried to expand the subway system and failed, abandoning the project. The tunnels are used for document storage today and the underwater tunnel goes nowhere. Few if any modern US cities today could build anything with the range and capacity of the NYC's ancient system. Too costly and too many regulations. I'll let you in on a little secret. Most New Yorkers hate riding the subway. Those who can afford it take taxi cabs. I rode it for over 20 years and it's a horrible experience.

Unless you're fairly wealthy, the quality of life in NYC stinks. That's one reason I moved away when I could.

Jul 15, 2008, 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

Anyone check out the new Data Quick numbers?

Jul 18, 2008, 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

Oops, here is the URL...


Jul 18, 2008, 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

The Marin numbers for June certainly weren't pretty. And Ben Jones made an interesting point about how "quiet" the IJ article was....no more delusional comments about God's country and how different Marin is, etc. I think the numbers are finally hitting a point where they are what they are, and it's difficult to sugar coat what they point to.

Also, 10% of sales last month were foreclosures, and we still have yet to see the next wave of AltA and PayOption ARM resets. That number should only accelerate.

I'm starting to sense a little fear here. So many people are tapped out, and I have to believe they will begin to ask themselves "for what?"

Jul 18, 2008, 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

Yes, Lisa, I agree....
Without the crazy 20%/year paper appreciation, Marin RE is now looking like a bad investment.
Why go broke to buy an "asset" that is sinking like a boat anchor.

Jul 19, 2008, 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger sf jack said...

From the IJ:


"July 17, 2008

Playing the real-estate game

Is this a good time to buy a home in Marin?

Total Votes = 217
61% Yes (133 votes)
39% No (84)"


Obviously, a majority of Marin residents must believe it's a good time to lose a lot of money.

And pay a realtor a commission.

[How many realtors voted in the poll?]

Jul 19, 2008, 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"How many realtors voted in the poll?"

And how many scared FB's who bought during the bubble voted?? Gotta keep those values propped up any which way they can -);

I live in San Anselmo, and the number of open houses here listed in the IJ today was shocking. Almost 50 in a town this size.

Jul 19, 2008, 4:00:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

Hey Marinite,
Are you around?
Are you O.K.?
I hope all is well.
We miss you.

Jul 23, 2008, 1:25:00 AM  

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