Face it: ‘Affordable housing’ means subsidized housing
Author: Jim Blickenstaff Publication: SF Chronicle
Characterizing opponents to aggressive housing plans as “poster children for exclusionary housing,” as The Chronicle does in its editorial about the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s CASA Compact (an advisory proposal to address Bay Area housing), is simply an old and over-abused tactic of demonizing the opposition when the proponents of the base argument feel their case cannot stand on its own merit. The Chronicle should know better.
As an advocate for the environment and maintaining the quality of life standards for Bay Area residents, I only oppose regional planning that sacrifices one or both of those goals in the name of accelerated housing development.
Truly affordable housing is, by definition, subsidized housing. That subsidy can be a direct set-aside of public funds. But, the usual mechanism for such housing is to package it with market-rate units, built by for-profit residential housing developers. Invariably, such a collaboration means incentivizing the building of affordable housing by fast-tracking that degrades environmental standards and/or the quality of life of local residents. The result: unmitigated or under-mitigated traffic impacts, unmitigated or under-mitigated parking impacts, unmitigated or under-mitigated schools impacts, unmitigated or under-mitigated parks impacts, etc., etc.
Assuming a social imperative for more affordable housing, I suggest a more direct and honest approach: state or local bonds dedicated for that purpose and voted on by the people most affected, and then implemented by nonprofit builders to further reduce costs and increase affordability.
It’s time to get past the inherent economic dichotomy where developers add their profit margin to the price for voter/resident subsidized housing and face up to the most common method of subsidizing affordable housing — sacrificing either or both the natural and populated environments.
Should the CASA Compact start a dialogue that includes environmental views, leading to a more honest and responsible outcome concerning Bay Area housing needs — and especially affordable housing needs — then it may yet prove to be a valuable document.
Jim Blickenstaff is a former San Ramon City Council member.
To read the original article, click here: https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Face-it-Affordable-housing-means-13500641.php