Posted: Apr 11, 2012, 8:55 PM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Wendell Cox Declares War On Regional Planning, Common Sense
10 April 2012
By Josh Stephens
Read More: http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3169
Since 2000 more than 1.6 million people have fled, and my own research as well as that of others points to high housing prices as the principal factor.
SB 375 and AB 32 did not pass until 2008 and 2006, respectively. In the first half of the 2000s, developers could not build homes fast enough in California. So, yes, it must be the climate change regulations and not the incredible demand for housing that has driven prices up.
California has declared war on the most popular housing choice, the single family, detached home
Let’s not confuse most popular with most common. And let’s not forget that the single-family home is most common because of the laws, regulations, and public investments that made it most common.
Metropolitan area governments are adopting plans…
Here’s his first whopper of a falsehood: metropolitan planning agencies are government agencies, but they are not governments. They have no police power and exert influence only to the extent that they control some transportation funding. And much of their policymaking depends on the consensus of their members: typically, cities and counties, which are governments.
… that would require most new housing to be built at 20 or more to the acre, which is at least five times the traditional quarter acre per house.
Cox has built a career on an appealing but often useless observation: less dense areas promote efficiency because cars burn relatively less gas when they travel at consistence speeds on uncongested streets. This metric, however, ignores overall fuel consumption that takes place when you have to drive to the next county to buy a quart of milk.
If every urban area in California continued to build at four houses to the acre, the distances from homes to basic amenities would grow ever greater. And you can forget about your commute: unless companies are going to open up branch offices in Tracy and Palmdale, then commutes from Cox’s fantasy fringe to established job centers would become farcical.
Big houses and the Frontier mentality are fine if you live and work in Jurupa. Sure, people like big houses. They also like living close to their jobs. Some of them even like living close to other people. But what about the inner suburbs? What about Milpitas? Or Covina? Or even Irvine? They can’t keep expanding. So if, as Cox’s whole premise suggests, population growth is a good thing, then how exactly are they going to grow without becoming more dense?
State and regional planners also seek to radically restructure urban areas, forcing …
SB 375 doesn’t force anything on anyone. It provides incentives and a few penalties. No city is going to go out of business if it doesn’t comply. Moreover, planners at MPO’s have insisted that SCS’s will cause anything but "radical" restructuring. Places that are suburban will remain largely suburban. Places that are urban will simply become “more” urban and thus relieve pressure on suruban areas. By promoting this high-density development, most new development will take place on a relatively small footprint, thus largely preserving Cox’s precious status quo.
…much of the new hyperdensity development...
“Hyperdensity”? Hyperdensity is Hong Kong. It’s Mumbai. It’s a Hunger Games screening on opening night. The notion that Cox thinks any place in California could ever be hyperdense is enough to forever disregard him. (Ironically, I don't actually want to disregard him. I like a good contrarian.)
...into narrowly confined corridors.
This description implies that California’s boulevards will turn into sun-starved canyons, with laundry hanging between tenements. That’s hardly the case. But even if it was, Cox willfully ignores the premise behind directing density to “narrow” corridors: it keeps density out of single-family home neighborhoods. What a concept.
If the planners have their way, 68% of new housing in Southern California by 2035 would be condos and apartment complexes. This contrasts with Census Bureau data showing that single-family, detached homes represented more than 80% of the increase in the region's housing stock between 2000 and 2010.
On Day One of moral philosophy class, most professors review the naturalistic fallacy, otherwise known as the is-ought fallacy. It means that what “is” is not necessarily what “ought” to be. (For an example, see the American South, ca. 1600 – 1865.) Mr. Cox apparently was absent that day.
Over the past 40 years, median house prices have doubled relative to household incomes in the Golden State….economic studies…have documented the strong relationship between more intense land-use regulations and exorbitant house prices.
I’m not going to tangle with Cox over studies. We all know that there’s a study for everything. I’ll only say that a lot more things were going on in the 1970s than just the introduction of land use regulations. There was also, say, Prop. 13, the oil crisis, the consumption of readily developable land, and disco too.
Since then, California has weathered the flight of the defense industry, the slow decrease in oil production, the scourge of the War on Drugs, the closure of military bases, the evisceration of the public school system, the near-lifetime incarceration of nonviolent felons, and the rise of the Kardashians (who, not coincidentally, live in Calabasas). I have no idea what this has to do with home prices, but my point is that California is a slightly more complicated place than Cox makes it out to be.
A 2007 report by McKinsey….recommended cost-effective strategies such as improved vehicle economy, improving the carbon efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, upgrading coal-fired electricity plants, and converting more electricity production to natural gas.
The California Legislature recommended the same thing. It’s called AB 32.
It is better to raise children with backyards than on condominium balconies.
In a universe full of empty assertions based on nothing but aesthetic biases, rarely does logic flee from opinion with quite such haste as it does from this one.
In point of fact, only an illiterate boor would categorically privilege the suburbs over all else. Cox needs look only to Betty Friedan (or Betty Draper, for that matter) to consider that maybe life holds more than meatloafs, soap operas, and chain restaurants.
Plenty of young parents would be perfectly happy to live in nice, well located multifamily dwellings rather than in poorly constructed stucco boxes in the high desert. If only there were more such dwellings to go around. However, if Cox thinks that the outer suburbs are so darned attractive, then he can get bargains on just about as many homes in Riverside, Stockton, and Merced as he wants. Everyone else who can afford to buy is buying elsewhere, or so just about all the demographic analyses suggest.
A less affordable California, with less attractive housing, could disadvantage the state as much as its already destructive policies toward business.
Here, Cox conflates the form of housing with the supply of housing. Sustainable Communities Strategies explicitly account for projected population growth. Though Cox may not like them, all the odious little apartments in those regional plans are meant to house exactly the number of people by which each respective region is projected to grow. If Cox thinks all 10-plus million of those new residents should live in detached homes, then I’d like to see what sort of plans he has in mind.