Public Comment

The NY Times' Housing Affordability Kick

Robert Brokl
Friday July 05, 2019 - 02:52:00 PM

The New York Times has published yet another article pushing housing affordability, this time a front page attack on single-family zoning: “Housing Scarce, Cities Erase Single-Family Lots.”

There is a rich irony in the flagship newspaper of New York City, the densest city in the United States and also one of the most expensive to live in, relentllessly flogging the notion—as news, no less--that density create affordability. San Francisco, also expensive, is the second densest.

So facts don't really matter, but no, I’m not going to use the "fake news” expression. But I might suggest, as your paper does with the nominal president, that you fact check the building lobby promoter-in-chief California Senator Scott Wiener. His quote in the article: “Single-family zoning 'means that everything else is banned….Low-income housing, which is only multi-unit-banned…’ ” is false.  

I live in Oakland, where some of the most affordable housing is still, despite gentrification in many parts of the city, single family, modest homes on mini-lots. In the Oakland hills, where density advocate Jerry Brown lived for years, large single family homes occupy at least an acre. What type of single family home are you talking about? 

As Wiener surely knows, the market rate multi-unit apartment buildings going up quickly in the most “desirable” parts of cities are not likely to be affordable.  

Why eliminate zoning? Kill cities and towns in order to save them? Turn every city into Houston, which may lack zoning but has deed restrictions instead? 

New York City: Solve your own problem first! (In truth, housing affordability is part of a larger problem with income inequality, and needs a national fix.)