Federal tax policy preferences
home-buying, causing the exodus of population from cities to suburbs.
Families put all of their savings into as large a home as possible on which the
mortgage interest is deductible. Why live anywhere but in suburbs where a mortgage will buy more tax relief and
a home is more affordable? Although it will mean owning several vehicles and
driving them more, automobiles and gas are so lightly
taxed it scarcely matters.
Billions to be spent on "Smart" Growth. Concern
about urban growth in this country is an old story.
So are frequent proposals to undo the pattern. Now comes $9.5 billion in tax-preferred bonds from the Federal Gov
for "Smart" Growth and more
funding for public transit, (also California has a 2.1 billion
bond, half of which is for "Infill Housing"(prop 46)). Although meritorious, this
"smart" growth scheme, like various others already tried by a
number of local governments, is likely to be of modest consequence at
best. Here's why:-
Why we prefer the Suburbs. In
place, for more than half a century, Urban Sprawl
in the United States is hard to slow, much less reverse, because
numerous government policies actively encourage it. These inducements
would have to be removed before the $9.5 bil.
subsidized credit program or California's $2.1
bil. Bond AB1044, could hope to make much of a difference.
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Or look at the Fed's $200 billion highway
bill (85 percent on roads). No policies intended to infill (“densify”)
cities:— through planning, community reinvestment, "empowerment
zones," urban renewal projects, mass transit subsidies, and so
on —stand a chance when it collides with this Bill,
which removes the traffic congestion obstacle for government planners to
allow suburban expansion.
Plenty of other U.S. policies have suburbanized us more:- Mortgage guarantees by the Federal Housing Administration
and Veterans Administration subsidized more than a quarter of all suburban
single-family homes built after WW2. Meanwhile, the Federal Public Housing program concentrated the urban poor in the
inner cities, turning more of them into social and violent degradations,
accelerating the flight of the middle-class to safer locations in the suburbs.
Whether urban America's spread-out style of settlement is a national
problem requiring a National or State solution is a complex and debatable
question. To think it through, policymakers will need to envision a lot more
than the US’s (and California’s) Smart Growth
policy which concentrates on “densifying” (infill)
In fact California has a healthy,
balanced Jobs to Housing Ratio of 1.2 to 1, despite what our politicians
have been told.
California’s metropolitan areas’ roadway
capacity increased in the same proportion as population growth since 1984. What did outpace both population and highway
growth at both the regional level and statewide was the total
growth in driving measured in vehicle miles traveled.
Time to Ask our
Politicians to re-examine the data and
let market forces and public demand govern the TYPE of
housing development and repeal the "Infill" Housing Bills
burdening all our cities' general plans. Especially
in this unpredicted time of recession. (Every city's
General Plan is forced to include a state mandated quota of new housing)
One major solution to any
Affordable Housing shortage can be conversion of commercial property
to affordable housing in cleaned up metropolitan areas, (among many
other solutions other than Mandated Infill where its not
wanted). Solutions might also include increasing minimum wage so people
can more easily afford relative, quality
housing. Instead of building down to their level, raise their standard of
living to a higher capability of home ownership (providing many
incentives). California's climate makes construction of desirable AND affordable housing so much more feasible.
Detached Manufactured/Mobile, garden housing
on a reasonable sized lot is by far the more popular choice over
apartments, at the same construction cost. These detached
homes might readily attract our teachers, firemen and
police away from suburb commuting (they frequently choose suburban life
over apartment dwelling).
There is no correlation between freeway funding
and the development that congests it.
- Feb 2003, Infill Transit Development AB420
- Dec 2002, Constitutional Amendment,
SCA2, A sales tax on transportation and smart growth may be
approved by a majority rather than 2/3 of the vote
also Feb 2002 SCA 5ACA7 too
2001, AB 857. The State Planning Priorities,
- Apr 2002, AB 1927, $6 bil. Bond Infrastructure and promote
the development of Affordable Housing and Infill projects,
- Apr 2001, SB 600, extend the surrounding land of a transit
village development district from 1/4 to 1/2 mile from a rail transit
- Sep 2002, SB 1636, remove regulatory barriers around the
development of infill housing, raise Congestion by lower traffic level of
- Sep 2002, AB666, rail projects that increase passenger rail
capacity, improve mobility in congested corridors. What this bill
666 omits to say is if the
money were spent on freeway instead of
rail, how much MORE mobility would be created !
924 (pending)– Allows a county and the cities in that county and
contiguous cities to adopt a "cooperative general plan" instead of
adopting their own individual general plans
- AB 6801/3 Sales Tax Rev would not go to cities that are "not housing eligible," in
which case, revenues that would have gone to those counties and cities go
instead to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) which will
spend it on transit-oriented development, open-space acquisition, in-fill
development, housing development, jobs-housing balance development,
redevelopment projects, and mixed-use development.
Environmental Defense Servicessaved more than
15,000 acres of farm and forestland, hundreds of neighborhoods and waterways
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