Thursday, May 5, 2016

Risk of disincentives/opposition to development in coastal areas of Palm Beach County: More urban sprawl and 'gentrification' too?

This blog post and the one following are re-post's from yesterday (5/4). If you've read these already please scroll down for new content. This created quite the stir and, hmmm, some creatively written emails as you can imagine. As always, Thank You for visiting. Enjoy:

[Please Note: This is a lengthy and thought-provoking post and if you're short on time visit later on to read in its entirety. The information below is especially relevant following the current news about another very large housing development outside the City on Lake Worth Rd. near the Turnpike. Read about that in the following blog post below (or use this link). This development news stands in contrast to the cries of "Gentrification!" once again as the City of Lake Worth begins fixing the substandard street lighting. For the enviros here it's about priorities. A question: Is resistance to development in Lake Worth and surrounding communities just causing, or pushing, home builders and housing into other areas out west in Palm Beach County? Like more and more western sprawl for example?]

The failure of San Francisco's 30+ year housing experiment is reverberating throughout the country. What was once a 'miracle' has imploded on itself. The very things they tried to avoid they created with their policies and those decisions are "coming home to roost": rising rents to name one. Development, which was once a dirty word in SF, is now the only answer left to dig themselves out of a very bad situation. Sadly, many long-time residents are being forced to move out of the city.

Below is an eye-opening excerpt from Michael Lewyn at Planetizen in an article titled, "The Failure of Preservation". This analysis might serve as a cautionary tale for those, such as residents in coastal Palm Beach County, who work so hard to stifle growth/development in the community and believe more housing and new residents damage their quality of life. Here is an excerpt:

     "Suppose a city freezes a neighborhood's housing supply in order to prevent gentrification and the resulting increase in rents. As long as demand is stagnant (for example, in a declining neighborhood) this policy has no real effect: no one will want to build new housing anyhow. But when demand is growing (either because of rising city population or rising city incomes) rents are likely, all else being equal, to rise in the absence of new construction. [emphasis added] If rising rents lead to more evictions, freezing supply is actually likely to lead to more evictions, not fewer evictions. (Of course, I am assuming that the new construction actually increases the neighborhood housing supply, which is not always the case. A new building that merely replaces an old building is obviously more problematic.)
     And if rents rise, that in turn defeats attempts to preserve the intangible 'character' of the neighborhood. Even if a neighborhood's housing stock is frozen in amber, its character will be very different if it becomes more expensive. At a minimum, the inhabitants will be richer. And in turn, this reality will affect the age, race, and even religion of the neighborhood's inhabitants, to the extent that some races, ages, and religions have more money than others. If the neighborhood has commercial blocks, the shops may look very different if the neighborhood gets wealthier. For example, a street catering to wealthy 50 year olds will have somewhat different shops than one catering to not-so-wealthy 25 year olds.
     Moreover, if housing restrictions in one neighborhood cause new housing to be built elsewhere in a region, the "receiving" neighborhood's character changes. Going back to Pedtown and Sprawlville: if Sprawlville was a rural, sparsely populated suburb in 2000, and zoning restrictions in Pedtown cause dozens of new subdivisions to be built in Sprawlville, obviously Sprawlville will feel very different in 2015. Thus, the restrictions in Pedtown are a classic example of a "beggar thy neighbor" policy—that is, a policy that shifts social harm from one neighborhood to another, rather than actually reducing the harm.

[In the last paragraph try substituting the City of Lake Worth for "Pedtown". You might enjoy this read too.]

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