6 Tactics to Hijack California’s Suburban Way of Life

6 Tactics to Hijack California’s Suburban Way of Life

Vilification, subversion of language, truisms and California’s one party government are just some of the tools being leveraged to push a developer funded radical rapid housing growth agenda that would dramatically reshape California’s single family home neighborhoods While Donald Trump is accused of having the attention span of a goldfish, the same accusation could be made of California voters. Few read ballot measures, typically basing their vote solely whether the the “headline” is appealing, or perhaps deferring to the endorsement of the local newspaper – newspapers which are often not without bias. This fact has not gone unnoticed by those who can benefit from it. This has led to one small but highly vocal minority special interest group hijacking not just state government but local councils and committees to push through their ideology – an ideology called “transit oriented development,” blended with the goal of driving rapid housing growth to address California’s housing crisis, above all other priorities and irrespective of negative, unintended consequences. This special interest group has successfully hijacked the conversation using 6 key tactics: Tactic #1: Propagate Opinions As “Truisms” While Dilbert creator Scott Adams accuses Trump of using hypnosis techniques, the same techniques are being used very effectively by pro rapid-growth groups such as the YIMBYs, and some groups using the pretense of advocating for “sustainable” development (there are many groups that advocate genuine sustainability which the author has great respect for). This tactic manifests itself at local council meetings, discussions with state government and, of course, in online community discussion forums. I recently started a poll on Nextdoor.com asking the seemingly simple question, “Will...
The Death Knell for California’s Single Family Neighborhoods

The Death Knell for California’s Single Family Neighborhoods

Unbeknownst to most Californians, changes to state housing laws are being proposed that substantially shift the balance away from development of single family homes and low density residential (duplex, triplex, etc.) to large scale high density development and they make it almost impossible for residents, councils or mayors to ensure quality development mitigating impacts on existing or new residents’ quality of life California’s Housing Accountability Act law, enacted in 1982, compels cities to take action on proposed developments. However legislation enacted by Governor Brown in September 2017 shifted the burden of proof that a development conforms to legal and zoning requirements to the local government. Now the judgment of elected city officials is replaced with that of any “reasonable person”, which can include the project developer who has a fundamental economic interest in the project. Should the city reject an undesirable proposal, until recently only the developer could file suit to appeal and overturn the decision. However in September 2016 this was also changed so that instead trade or industry groups, or housing advocacy groups could file suit with cities paying their legal fees. Developers are reluctant to sue cities when development proposals are blocked, because they are constantly negotiating with city officials over their projects. The new legislation allows developers’ surrogates to do the dirty work. There have been two suits filed in Berkeley and Sausalito by the housing advocacy group San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation (SF BARF, which is now known as SF YIMBY), both for market rate, not affordable housing. In both cases the advocacy groups prevailed with the city paying the advocacy group’s costs....