Profile picture
Kenneth Stahl @kookie13
, 27 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
I know how much you all loved my last book-reading live-tweet, so here comes another one: "Generation Priced Out by @beyondchron. #urbanismbookclub…
As the title implies, "Generation Priced Out" chronicles the ways that decades of misguided land use and housing policy have locked an entire upcoming generation out of the opportunities for mobility and wealth building that previous generations took for granted.
@beyondchron has an interesting background as both a journalist and an activist. He's the director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which provides legal assistance for SF tenants facing eviction. And it seems like he had a hand in every major SF housing reform since the late 70s
Now @beyondchron is turning his sights to the need for zoning reform. But he also wants to build bridges between the reform-zoning crowd and the anti-displacement crowd that if often skeptical of zoning reform.
Some great context and self-reflection: "In the 100s of mtgs I attended in the 1980s discussing how to deal w the housing crisis, the need to build housing and expand supply...never came up. It certainly never crossed my own mind as a policy solution."
Seattle's Housing Affordabilty and Livability Agenda (HALA) was a grand bargain to pair higher heights and densities with more affordable housing through inclusionary zoning. Got non-profit and for-profit developers on board, as well as grassroots groups like the Sierra Club.
@beyondchron contrasts @SierraClubSEA favorably with Sierra Club's SF chapter. The former supported HALA and upzoning residential neighborhoods. The latter "has opposed nearly every market rate project proposed for SF on which the club took a stand."
Organized labor in Seattle also got behind HALA, understanding that upzoning will create union jobs, that low-wage workers "get displaced by the lack of affordable housing," and that long commutes are a "hidden tax" on workers' time.
But of course, HALA was weakened by opposition from single-family neighborhoods. "They unalterably opposed any new housing that added renters to their neighborhoods." The mayor caved quickly to the NIMBYs, and now HALA will not upzone single-family neighborhoods.
Development in Seattle requires in 8 month approval process, as opposed to SF's multi-year process. @beyondchron believes Seattle succeeded (so far) bc it was motivated NOT to become the next San Francisco.
Moving on (and skipping around a bit), in Austin, TX, one of the big hurdles is TX's complete lack of any tenant protections. As Austijn has grown, low-income tenants are being displaced. But tenants have a champion in city councilmember Greg Casar.
@GregCasar helped organize tenant organizations and pushed for zoning changes to allow "renters to live in high-opportunity neighborhoods." It is rare for a councilmember to see beyond the borders of their own district to the bigger regional picture.
This shows the importance of electing politicians who understand the concerns of renters. Even without legal protections like rent control, political influence can go a long way.
Usually councilmembers, especially in ward-based systems, are focused on bringing stuff into their neighborhood, not exporting stuff and people out of it. This is one reason why inclusionary zoning and rent control are often more popular than citywide upzoning.
@beyondchron talks about Austin's "CodeNext" a really bad name for a good idea to get rid of the city's restrictive zoning laws. I am a little confused about the current status of CodeNext. Is it still on the table?
CodeNext got traction because there was a lot of publicity surrounding the "racial dimension" of Austin's exclusionary zoning laws, meaning the way those laws were used, both intentionally and unintentionally, to enforce racial segregation.
@tdfischer_ informs me that CodeNext is now dead. Cael domage (sp?) Of course, it too was bedeviled by opposition from homeowners who complained that "CodeNext wrecks Austin." Would be curious to know where Austin goes from here.
@beyondchron is unsparing in criticizing "progressive" cities like SF and Austin that proclaim their openness to immigrants but refuse to open their doors to any new neighbors.
Back to my live-tweet of @beyondchron's "Generation Priced Out." Considering my last few tweets about the middle class fleeing the bay area, let's talk SF. Shaw notes that SF has a long anti-housing legacy, producing only 2,000 units/yr from 1985 to 2017.
Shaw traces SF's anti-housing legacy to mayor Dianne Feinstein, who "responded to the housing crisis of the 1980s by making it harder to build." Should we be surprised she defended the mortgage interest deduction for rich households?Did we really just re-elect her for 6 more yrs?
@beyondchron tells a sad story about Irish blders of MC housing in SF who were pushed out by over-regulation and anti-developer hostility. The only developers left are the big sharks who build for the very wealthy. Anti-developer sentiment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Small Irish developers were able to profit for a short time by exploiting a loophole in SF's zoning law that allowed development of live-work lofts in old industrial areas. In other words, it was only because of a MISTAKE in SF's zoning code that any housing was allowed at all!
By the end of the 90s, of course, the inevitable backlash came and the live-work loft loophole was closed. Can you guess what the objection was? If you guessed that it was "gentrification" and preserving future blue-collar jobs, you're right!
Small-scale Irish builders were vilified. "Not even bankers were targeted with the venom leveled at Irish builders whose perceived wrong was building housing." Even housing for school teachers was perceived as "gentrification."
@beyondchron is way more politic than I am, because he never stoops to judge the "anti-gentrification" activists who block housing. He sticks to the facts, which are damning enough in their own right.
@beyondchron spends a lot of time praising former mayor Ed Lee on housing. I'm not totally convinced. Lee did a lot of traditional prog stuff: tenant protections, $$ for affordable housing cracking down on AirBnB, but I didn't see any meaningful zoning reform to make bldg easier.
Ditto from @beyondchron for LA mayor Eric Garcetti. Nice laundry list of progressive lay-ups: inclusionary zoning, Costa-Hawkins repeal, $$ for homeless. But nothing other than lip service for real zoning reform to actually allow housing to be built.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Kenneth Stahl
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!