SB 827 Autopsy – Why is affordable housing is so scarce?

For the past four months, California state Sen. Scott Wiener has been on a quest to strip his staunchly left-wing hometown of its power to maintain single-family residential neighborhoods. His Senate Bill 827 would have required California cities to permit midrise-apartment construction—buildings rising up to 45 or 55 feet—around train stations and busy bus stops. It was a radical attempt to subvert local control in the interest of creating more homes and would have opened up neighborhoods in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area to row houses and small apartment buildings. Transit-rich San Francisco, where Wiener, a first-term legislator, previously sat on the board of supervisors, would have been almost entirely rezoned to accommodate a residential scale about half that of a typical Parisian street.

Opposed by virtually every Californian in a position of power, Wiener’s bill failed in a Sacramento committee on Tuesday. This had been widely anticipated; what Wiener and his co-sponsor Nancy Skinner, representing the East Bay, proposed was nothing less than to upend the entire framework for the past century of American racial politics and wealth building.

From a bird’s-eye perspective, though, it’s not clear that things can get much worse. Consider the Bay Area, where the nurse in San Jose flies into work from Idaho and where families living in cars dump their feces into storm drains across the street from the future Chan-Zuckerberg School, a philanthropic endeavor of the Facebook founder and his wife that’s a five-minute drive from the company’s global headquarters. In the past five years, the Bay Area has added 373,000 jobs and built only 58,000 units of housing. California homes cost 2½ times the U.S. average, and higher still in the coastal metros that SB 827 would address. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated in 2015 that the state’s major metro areas between 1980 and 2010 built barely half the number of housing units needed to keep price growth in line with the U.S. average. Hundreds of thousands of low-income households have left the state over the past decade, replaced by high-earning new arrivals. California is basically one enormous gentrifying neighborhood. What does “worse” look like?

Via Slate

Denver Post Airs its Concerns.

A flagship local newspaper like The Post plays a critically important role in its city and state: It provides a public record of the good and the bad, serves as a watchdog against public and private corruption, offers a free marketplace of ideas and stands as a lighthouse reflective and protective of — and accountable to — a community’s values and goals. A news organization like ours ought to be seen, especially by our owner, as a necessary public institution vital to the very maintenance of our grand democratic experiment.

The smart money is that in a few years The Denver Post will be rotting bones. And a major city in an important political region will find itself without a newspaper.

Denver Post

*Smart growth*

Hayes, 70, is pushing an amendment to the state constitution that would cap residential housing growth at 1 percent for the Front Range, from El Paso to Larimer counties, including Boulder and Weld counties. The ballot language is awaiting approval from the Secretary of State’s Office. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Hayes points to his hometown of Golden. He owns and manages about 20 rental properties, fought for a cap on growth there two decades ago and says it helped the city preserve its character and save money.

via the Coloradoan

Gentrification 2018

Are we in another bubble? I remember 2008. I see a lot of places for rent and for sale that I don’t see a lot of people being able to afford. Maybe I’m not getting it.

Here’s how it looks in Somerville, Massachusetts.

For a century and more, Somerville was a working-class neighborhood bordering Cambridge. The city is still populated with a dense mix of blue-collar workers and recent immigrants, all living in together in red-brick and clapboard three-decker housing. It also provided many affordable, off-campus rooms and apartments to Tufts, Harvard, and MIT students as well as artists, writers, and radicals. Today, it’s dealing with the aftershocks of a boom in biotech and the knowledge economy that’s now rippling out from post-rent-control Cambridge. That bloom of wealth and demand is pushing premium jobs and rocketing rents into neighboring Somerville, a place where suddenly everybody wants to live and a lot of proud residents can no longer afford.

via Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Denver Post Goes Paywall

The Denver Post is going to charge for its services now.

How I have hated the enormous amount of time we’ve spent trying to get page views in the empty belief the digital ads would save us. In that pursuit we’ve drained precious time and resources that could have been focused on doing even more real journalism, like fact-checking political claims, investigating government spending or crafting a better read.
Returning to our fundamentals will be better for readers and journalists alike.

I don’t blame them. If the online ad model ain’t working, it ain’t working. Hat’s off to them for looking for a new approach.

Net Neutrality.

Dear Mr. Hawkes,

Thank you for contacting me regarding net neutrality. I appreciate you taking the time to write. It is an honor to serve you in the United States Senate and I hope you will continue to write with your thoughts and ideas on moving our country forward.

On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reverse the 2015 Open Internet Order. In 2015, the FCC reclassified broadband services under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 was originally designed to regulate the legacy telephone network.

While I strongly support preventing Internet companies from blocking or slowing consumers, the 2015 order relied on a 1930s portion of law, which was never intended to regulate the Internet. Using outdated regulation to police Internet companies threatens innovation and investment in the Internet. The FCC’s latest decision provides a new opportunity to find a way forward on bipartisan legislation that permanently prevents companies from blocking or slowing consumers. I support such a legislative approach to ensure this issue is resolved once and for all instead of leaving it up to the whim of the FCC.

Again, thank you for contacting me, and do not hesitate to do so again when an issue is important to you.

Cory Gardner
United States Senator

Teachers getting by in Denver

Or not ->

The NCTQ report looked at 124 large school districts around the country, including four in metro Denver: Cherry Creek School District, Denver Public Schools, Douglas County School District and Jeffco Public Schools.
In three of those districts, a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no prior experience cannot even afford to rent a 1-bedroom at the median cost in each area. Only Cherry Creek was considered affordable – but just barely.>

Colfax

Highly readable article in the LA Times on Denver’s liveliest of streets.

That was once Smiley’s, the world’s biggest laundromat,” he said, passing a warehouse-like building. “That hotel? The uncle of the Red Baron had his funeral there. Clint Eastwood walked his orangutan past that place in ‘Every Which Way But Loose.’ The guy who created the Colorado Gay Rodeo worked over there. I performed an Elvis wedding at that church.

Kelly, David. 2017. “Denver’s Colfax Avenue Is Jammed With History, Freaks, Neon. Its Champion Is An Elvis Impersonator, Of Course”. Latimes.Com. Accessed November 26 2017. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-denver-colfax-street-20171120-htmlstory.html.

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