Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Peculiar Confusion of Anti-Building Activists

Cory Weinberg of the San Francisco Business Times reports:
The Bay Area’s housing boom is bringing tension over affordable housing to a boil, as we’ve seen this week. A San Francisco supervisor proposed a plan to temporarily stop market-rate housing projects in the Mission District on Monday. Protesters shut down the Oakland City Council meeting Tuesday night over a high-rent apartment building next to Lake Merritt.

These are the kind of scenes that frustrate John Rahaim and Rachel Flynn, the planning directors of San Francisco and Oakland, respectively...

uilding next to Lake Merritt.
These are the kind of scenes that frustrate John Rahaim...the planning directors of San Francisco and Oakland, respectively. While they weren’t addressing the Mission and the Lake Merritt tower specifically, they both said Monday that opposition to market-rate housing frustrates them most.

“The misconception I am currently dealing with is this notion that it’s the new construction that’s causing housing prices to increase rather than the actual demand for housing that’s causing prices to increase. That’s what I find particularly frustrating,” Rahaim said at an event at the urban policy think tank SPUR.

“It’s not the units we build on any given year…(but) if we build 5,000 or 6,000 units a year for 20 years, it does make a difference,” he added....

 However, in the 2012 book “The Rent is Too Damn High,” Vox editor Matt Yglesias wrote that even though he is a political liberal who supports higher taxes, universal healthcare and income redistribution, he wants less housing regulation. Housing production begets lower rents, he argued.

“When progressives see neighborhood activists rallying against rich developers, they side with the activists by instinct," Yglesias wrote. But "the fact that houses and offices are built by rich businessmen shouldn’t distract people. At the end of the day, almost everything is, on one level or another, built by rich businessmen.”

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