Liberal America’s Single-Family Hypocrisy

Tom

https://www.thenation.com/article/zoning-housing-homeless-segregation/

Allowing a lot more people to live in the places with the most jobs, educational opportunities, and transportation options will reduce segregation and inequality, enable more people to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle, and create the kind of homes that conform to current demographic realities.


mjc

Tom, thanks for this link!  Very interesting and rings true (though I didn't follow the opposing link in the Comments).

I was not aware of the widespread "downzoning" decades ago, e.g.:  "Los Angeles went from being zoned to accommodate 10 million people in 1960 to 4.3 million in 2010." !!

Minneapolis as usual making more sense than many cities, with their recent changes.  How do they manage to elect reasonable people?

(On a personal note, one of the things I like best about our largely-1920s, inner-ring suburb of Milwaukee - similar in many ways to SOMa - is the interspersing of duplexes in most single-family neighborhoods.)


drummerboy

I don't understand. What's the hypocrisy?


terp

One of the problems is that people want others to make the sacrifice.  They will say, indeed insist, we need to do X & Y, but the hope is that someone else will bear the price.


Philip
Tom_Reingold said:
https://www.thenation.com/article/zoning-housing-homeless-segregation/


Allowing a lot more people to live in the places with the most jobs, educational opportunities, and transportation options will reduce segregation and inequality, enable more people to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle, and create the kind of homes that conform to current demographic realities.

 You can see this in action locally right now -- check out any discussion on the purchase of the Rock Springs golf course by West Orange.


ml1

perfect example has been the tremendous hostility among many SOMA people toward the concept of "transit villages." And the opposition to any denser housing units, even in a business district like Springfield Ave, which is zoned for it. 


sprout

Higher density living is more stressful. You lose the ability to have your own space. From listening to other families argue, other babies crying, other music, other food smells, even just the noise from people walking in high heels upstairs, you lose control over your environment.

In my tweens I moved from an apartment in the Bronx to suburban NJ. I had grown up with a chronic runny nose and cough, eczema, and a few other annoying but 'minor' ailments. Once moving to a small house in suburban NJ, these ailments disappeared.  Maybe it was improved air quality or I was allergic to something in my previous apartment. But life in a larger and separated house is definitely less stressful than life in an apartment. I could not go back to apartment living if the space couldn't be made quiet and food-smell-free, and if I didn't have enough room to have privacy, or phone conversations without everyone else in my family overhearing them. 

Wouldn't it make more environmental sense to try to reduce human population growth (perhaps with something like a 2-child limit) than to allow for human density to increase and think the solution is to build more high-density living quarters? Or rejuvenate dying cities with high vacancy rates instead of increasing density in cities that are full? Individuals' carbon footprints can be addressed by renewable power sources and reduced power use. Power use limits could be a possibility.

And as a 'remote' workforce becomes more common, high-density living in areas that previously had high density of jobs may become less of a thing.

@Tom_Reingold -- IIRC, even you have opted into a 'country house' to have access to more privacy?


terp

Sounds like different people have different preferences on how to live.  Hmmmm.


sprout
terp said:
Sounds like different people have different preferences on how to live.  Hmmmm.

Sounds like the poor are punished in capitalism by providing them with the highest-stress living condition options.  Hmmmm....


ml1

the issue isn't that not every housing type appeals to everyone. It's that the people who would like to live in high-density areas are being shut out by zoning ordinances that prevent new construction. 


sprout
ml1 said:
the issue isn't that not every housing type appeals to everyone. It's that the people who would like to live in high-density areas are being shut out by zoning ordinances that prevent new construction. 

Because of the counter-perspective: Some already living in these areas feel they are at their density limit, and don't want their stress increased by increasing housing density.


proeasdf
ml1 said:
the issue isn't that not every housing type appeals to everyone. It's that the people who would like to live in high-density areas are being shut out by zoning ordinances that prevent new construction. 

Queens owner converted a two family into nine SROs (full article in link below).  Thousands of these conversions are going on in Queens NY (but the building department frequently does not enforce the existing law)

A building department that often takes years to resolve such issues (where was the building when the conversion/construction was going on?) does not engender trust and confidence in the loosening of density requirements.


See:  https://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/city-still-tackling-illegal-conversions/article_6241f98b-9f55-5353-816b-a42f300c1fc0.html


Stanley

sprout said:


terp said:
Sounds like different people have different preferences on how to live.  Hmmmm.
Sounds like the poor are punished in capitalism by providing them with the highest-stress living condition options.  Hmmmm....

 First, I grew up in an apartment in the Bronx and did not find it as miserable as what you experienced.

Second, some of the problems you describe can exist in a luxury high rise or a suburban garden apartment.

Some of the very poor live in rural environments in shacks far distant from their neighbors.




yahooyahoo

Maplewood is very high-density for a suburb and is only getting more so.  We are on track to end up with a strip of apartment buildings down Valley and down Springfield Avenue and several in the village.


sprout
STANV said:
 First, I grew up in an apartment in the Bronx and did not find it as miserable as what you experienced.

My first childhood apartment was one of those burned for insurance money (a few years after we moved to a different apartment).  My second childhood apartment was on a ground floor and was burglarized regularly. It was a very high density and high poverty neighborhood -- and I didn't realize how stressful it was to live there until I moved to the suburbs and those stressors were gone.


Klinker
sprout said:
My first childhood apartment was one of those burned for insurance money (a few years after we moved to a different apartment).  My second childhood apartment was on a ground floor and was burglarized regularly. It was a very high density and high poverty neighborhood -- and I didn't realize how stressful it was to live there until I moved to the suburbs and those stressors were gone.

 Probably not a model for what people are seeking to build.


nohero
yahooyahoo said:
Maplewood is very high-density for a suburb and is only getting more so.  We are on track to end up with a strip of apartment buildings down Valley and down Springfield Avenue and several in the village.

 Maplewood is lagging compared to suburbs like Summit and Montclair, which have had many more apartments for much longer.


yahooyahoo
nohero said:


yahooyahoo said:
Maplewood is very high-density for a suburb and is only getting more so.  We are on track to end up with a strip of apartment buildings down Valley and down Springfield Avenue and several in the village.
 Maplewood is lagging compared to suburbs like Summit and Montclair, which have had many more apartments for much longer.

If that's what I wanted, I would have moved to Montclair.  I chose Maplewood.   


nohero
yahooyahoo said:


nohero said:

yahooyahoo said:
Maplewood is very high-density for a suburb and is only getting more so.  We are on track to end up with a strip of apartment buildings down Valley and down Springfield Avenue and several in the village.
 Maplewood is lagging compared to suburbs like Summit and Montclair, which have had many more apartments for much longer.
If that's what I wanted, I would have moved to Montclair.  I chose Maplewood.   

 My point was that neither Summit nor Montclair are considered undesirable by the "nice single family home" shopper.

When we were starting out (mid-1980s), we could find apartments in Montclair; later bought a house in Maplewood by happenstance because we found one we liked and could afford.


Tom
sprout said:

@Tom_Reingold -- IIRC, even you have opted into a 'country house' to have access to more privacy?


During the week, I live in an apartment in Manhattan. Most weekends we are upstate in rural Ulster County, NY. You could say we have the best of both worlds, but it's because we are extremely lucky in our circumstances. Maybe I'll have to choose one or the other (or something entirely different), and I don't know what I will choose.

Maybe we should resume the dialog about controlling population growth. We are likely to lose major amounts of our habitat soon, so we should make these consciously if we have to make them at all. But I think it's fair to say that density growth can be done well or badly, and it's silly just to say no, as well as it being cruel. In Manhattan, it's getting to the point where we want to scream because of the rapid growth of density. But what's the sense in saying, "I got here first, so stay away!"?

We can learn from denser places like Tokyo which is very dense and also sounds like a pretty livable place. Neighborhoods are self-sufficient economies, and you don't have to travel much to get what you need.


Stanley
sprout said:
My first childhood apartment was one of those burned for insurance money (a few years after we moved to a different apartment).  My second childhood apartment was on a ground floor and was burglarized regularly. It was a very high density and high poverty neighborhood -- and I didn't realize how stressful it was to live there until I moved to the suburbs and those stressors were gone.

 OK. I see. I apologize.

We had a much better apartment. It was large and rent controlled but third floor walk up.

I think I am considerably older than you and remember the way the Bronx was in the 1950s

 


ml1
sprout said:
Because of the counter-perspective: Some already living in these areas feel they are at their density limit, and don't want their stress increased by increasing housing density.

 that's the precise point being made in the article Tom linked to.


sprout
ml1 said:


sprout said:
Because of the counter-perspective: Some already living in these areas feel they are at their density limit, and don't want their stress increased by increasing housing density.
 that's the precise point being made in the article Tom linked to.

And my point is that I think there are viable environmental alternatives that would be preferable to messing with people's mental health for the purpose of being environmental.


Klinker
sprout said:


ml1 said:

sprout said:
Because of the counter-perspective: Some already living in these areas feel they are at their density limit, and don't want their stress increased by increasing housing density.
 that's the precise point being made in the article Tom linked to.
And my point is that I think there are viable environmental alternatives that would be preferable to messing with people's mental health for the purpose of being environmental.

The great thing is that we can increase density AND decrease the population.  Its not an either or.  Lets not let plans for one get in the way of actually accomplishing the other. 


sprout
STANV said:


sprout said:
My first childhood apartment was one of those burned for insurance money (a few years after we moved to a different apartment).  My second childhood apartment was on a ground floor and was burglarized regularly. It was a very high density and high poverty neighborhood -- and I didn't realize how stressful it was to live there until I moved to the suburbs and those stressors were gone.
 OK. I see. I apologize.
We had a much better apartment. It was large and rent controlled but third floor walk up.
I think I am considerably older than you and remember the way the Bronx was in the 1950s
 

No worries. That second apartment was in a neighborhood that was probably gorgeous in the 1950s. It was a mix of brick 2-family row houses with Spanish tile roofs, and multi-family 6-story apartments with decorative brick inlays, Tudor and castle tops, and gardens in the middle. I assume it was built to be a mix of low- and moderate-density housing middle-class suburb of Manhattan. My elementary school had marbled stairwell walls and a planetarium. There was a subway line and a giant park.

I don't know the history of the decrease in value of the neighborhood. Or if that occurred before or after the addition of the newer (possibly 1960's built) high-rise apartment buildings. It had not always been the stressful neighborhood I experienced in the 1970's.


spontaneous

Population density is linked to increased mental health issues.  To be fair, there isn't a clear cause and effect, so while there isn't enough evidence to state that living in cities causes mental illness, there is enough of a link that experts on the subject feel it should be looked into.

Why is that important?  Because if it is found to be a cause/effect relationship, then people wanting their suburban neighborhoods to stay suburban isn't liberal hypocrisy, but rather looking out for their health.

And saying that poor people should just move into high density housing is also wrong, as they may not want to live there.

Apartment living, and city living, are both fine for people who choose it.  Forcing it on people, however, is not cool.  One answer to affordable housing is restructuring how we pay for services.  Our current system pays for schools directly through property taxes, which taxes you X amount per dollar amount your house is valued at, regardless of your income.  In general lower income residents will pay a higher percentage of their income towards property taxes than higher income residents will.  Switching the school budget over to a state level of payment would level that.  Earn more, pay more, earn less, pay less.  This would be especially beneficial to people who see frequent changes in their income, as their tax burden would change along with their income.  


sprout
Klinker said:


sprout said:

ml1 said:

sprout said:
Because of the counter-perspective: Some already living in these areas feel they are at their density limit, and don't want their stress increased by increasing housing density.
 that's the precise point being made in the article Tom linked to.
And my point is that I think there are viable environmental alternatives that would be preferable to messing with people's mental health for the purpose of being environmental.
The great thing is that we can increase density AND decrease the population.  Its not an either or.  Lets not let plans for one get in the way of actually accomplishing the other. 

If we decrease the population, why would we bother to build anything more? 

Why is it a great thing to increase density if we can keep density around what it is, and instead just decrease energy usage?


proeasdf
sprout said:
If we decrease the population, why would we bother to build anything more? 
Why is it a great thing to increase density if we can keep density around what it is, and instead just decrease energy usage?

 +10


Klinker
sprout said:


Klinker said:

sprout said:

ml1 said:

sprout said:
Because of the counter-perspective: Some already living in these areas feel they are at their density limit, and don't want their stress increased by increasing housing density.
 that's the precise point being made in the article Tom linked to.
And my point is that I think there are viable environmental alternatives that would be preferable to messing with people's mental health for the purpose of being environmental.
The great thing is that we can increase density AND decrease the population.  Its not an either or.  Lets not let plans for one get in the way of actually accomplishing the other. 
If we decrease the population, why would we bother to build anything more? 
Why is it a great thing to increase density if we can keep density around what it is, and instead just decrease energy usage?

 The denser the population the smaller the foot print.


Klinker
spontaneous said:

Apartment living, and city living, are both fine for people who choose it.  Forcing it on people, however, is not cool.  

Did I miss something?  Who is talking about "forcing" it on people?



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