Please log in to view images

« prev   random   next »

2
1

Let’s stop fetishizing the single family home

By tovarichpeter follow tovarichpeter   2020 Feb 6, 12:55am 305 views   11 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


Opinion
Let’s Quit Fetishizing the Single-Family Home
California’s lawmakers once again failed to allow more housing in the state. They’re afraid to accept the single-family home is outdated.

Farhad Manjoo
By Farhad Manjoo
Opinion Columnist
Feb. 5, 2020



Homes in Orinda, Calif.
Homes in Orinda, Calif.Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times
When my family emigrated from our native South Africa to Southern California in the 1980s, my parents, my sister and I fell hard for this state’s endless suburban sprawl. To the four of us, the acres of subdivisions that had been mushrooming up across California since World War II were the embodiment of everything we’d been promised about America. A bigger-than-enough house, a two-car garage and a backyard of brilliant green lawn — this was the California Dream we’d seen on TV.

By the time I got to middle school, my immigrant family was able to afford a house with a yard of our own — back then, California really was the land of milk and honey — and I spent my youth in the sun-drenched suburbs. It was a fine place to grow up; in the mass-produced “little boxes made of ticky-tacky” that stretch across California and much of America, I found comfort, safety and a crucial sense of belonging in the American landscape.

And yet, wistful though I may remain for my suburban-sprawl childhood, these days I find myself continually amazed and befuddled by my state’s insane fetishization of an anachronistic model of urban development. Why — when the case for some better way of living has become so painfully obvious — can’t California quit propping up its endless rows of single-family houses? Why can’t so much of America? And what level of extreme unlivability is it going to take to finally convince us that there isn’t enough space for all of us to live as if space is infinite?

Last week, California lawmakers rejected an effort to override restrictive zoning regulations across the state for the third year in a row. Most of the land available for residential development in California is zoned for single-family homes, according to researchers at U.C. Berkeley’s Turner Center for Housing Innovation; the typical California city allows multifamily developments like apartments, townhouses and duplexes on less than a quarter of its land. Senate Bill 50, devised by Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, would have allowed higher-density housing near public transportation lines and job centers, fostering affordability and sustainability in a state that desperately needs both.

In previous attempts, Wiener’s idea was criticized for exacerbating gentrification and handing over development plans from local officials to state bureaucrats. This year, Wiener significantly amended the bill to address the critics’ concerns. The latest version offered greater control to local officials and delayed the legislation’s impact in low-income areas sensitive to gentrification.

But again, the bill couldn’t make it through. S.B. 50 attracted fierce opposition from lawmakers representing some of the state’s ritziest suburbs and its largest cities. Even some of the bill’s putative supporters, like Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is falling well short of his campaign promise to spur the development of 3.5 million new housing units by 2025, offered only tepid endorsements.

I suspect that the reluctance stems from a reality that many politicians would prefer to avoid accepting: The reign of the single-family home is over. Whatever its habitable charms and nostalgic appeal, the single-family home is out of step with the future.

In an era constrained by sustainability and affordability, a big house with a backyard should be a rarity. Much of California is straining under its own success: We have too many people and too few places for them to live, offered at too-high prices, in too many areas touched-by-climate-change-related menaces, like wildfires, all too far from where people work. And the solution is so painfully obvious it feels almost reductive to point it out: Make it legal to build more housing that houses more people.

Increasing density by replacing single-family homes with multifamily ones would be a boon to our efforts to address climate change, and it would help with affordability. But if that is too practical a selling point, let me offer a couple more politically salient ones.





First, there is nothing especially admirable about the development of single-family zoning in America. Though the policy is now defended as a way to maintain the ineffable “local character” of neighborhoods, single-family zoning has a history in segregation. As the historian Richard Rothstein has documented, single-family zoning was one of the many ways white homeowners and politicians kept African-Americans out of suburbs.

And second: We can move on from single-family housing to something better for everyone. A few years ago, shut out of the skyrocketing market for single-family homes in our Northern California suburb, my wife and I bought a townhouse. At first we thought of it as a starter home — we’d just had our second child, and it felt like we could slum it in a townhouse for a bit before we could move into the dream of a place with a backyard.

That dream now looks prohibitive: Houses with backyards in my neck of the woods require tech-I.P.O. levels of insane wealth. But you know what? I don’t feel so bad. Our attached townhouse, on a piece of land a small fraction of the size of a single-family home, is less of a burden on the environment, and it is just the right size for the four of us. It’s also just as loving and pleasant a place for my kids to grow up in as my own suburban manse was for me.

At some point, recently, I realized that I no longer fantasized about ever having a backyard — my dream home is now a townhouse, and if it’s good enough for me, perhaps it could be good enough for others in my state, too.
1   Misc   ignore (0)   2020 Feb 6, 9:58pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Why stop with multi-family housing? Why not go all the way with Soviet style apartments? Far easier on the environment with 5 families per dwelling.
2   NoCoupForYou   ignore (3)   2020 Feb 7, 2:34am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

There has to be a Collective Disco #152 on every block.

3   willywonka   ignore (6)   2020 Feb 7, 5:39am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

But need basement and soundproof walls because kidnapped hitchhikers, rogue interrogations, etc.
4   ForcedTQ   ignore (0)   2020 Feb 7, 6:00am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Sour grapes from author of article, I can’t afford to live where I want to live so no one else should be allowed to live the way they want either. Big state government should come in and tell city councils and county supervisors how to allow land to be used. Blah blah blah. How about get off your ass if you want something re-zoned and make it happen locally. Or fuck you if you cannot put forth the required effort. Could also try working more/different jobs that get you the income you need to afford that SFR that you actually want.

Just because you came to terms with what your budget allows, doesn’t mean others can’t live differently than you. This is the mindset that needs to be destroyed, else we will all be controlled down to how we take a shit.
5   HeadSet   ignore (3)   2020 Feb 7, 6:20am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

else we will all be controlled down to how we take a shit.

Except apparently SF and LA do not control where people take a shit.....
6   BayArea   ignore (1)   2020 Feb 7, 6:22am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

What a ridiculous piece

SFH is the holy grail of housing. Get sum.
7   HeadSet   ignore (3)   2020 Feb 7, 6:26am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

BayArea says
What a ridiculous piece

SFH is the holy grail of housing. Get sum.


Also depends on stage of life, for example:

Apartment when young and single
SFH when married and raising kids
Low maintenance townhome when old and retired
8   NDrLoR   ignore (0)   2020 Feb 7, 8:55am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

tovarichpeter says
“little boxes made of ticky-tacky”


Misc says
Why not go all the way with Soviet style apartments


That was the intent of Malvena Reynolds, a supporter of the USSR along with her friend Pete Seeger, in her 1961 song "Little Boxes", to ridicule the suburbs filled with identical houses built to accommodate GI's returning from war after defeating the tyranny of Nazism. Every one of those "little boxes" filled with pastel colored appliances and color TV's, with a chrome and tail-finned car sitting in the driveway represented a privacy and freedom that no one in the Soviet Union could have enjoyed. Why didn't she sing a song about ugly Soviet Bloc housing where people lived in barely heated areas with two or three families and a communal toilet down the hall and where Big Brother could listen in all the time. Where the women stood in line for hours in hopes of getting a crust of stale bread.
9   Fortwaynemobile   ignore (2)   2020 Feb 7, 9:20am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

CA is trying hard to tax a life out of all housing and make everyone live in government rented apartment complexes.

Repealing prop 13 is already on ballot, I hope it fails.
10   HeadSet   ignore (3)   2020 Feb 7, 10:31am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Every one of those "little boxes" filled with pastel colored appliances and color TV's, with a chrome and tail-finned car sitting in the driveway

Color TVs were very rare in the 1950s. TV stations did not even start broadcast shows in color until the mid 1960s or so.
11   NoCoupForYou   ignore (3)   2020 Feb 7, 11:20am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

NDrLoR says
That was the intent of Malvena Reynolds, a supporter of the USSR along with her friend Pete Seeger, in her 1961 song "Little Boxes", to ridicule the suburbs filled with identical houses built to accommodate GI's returning from war after defeating the tyranny of Nazism.


"The most sanctimonious song ever written" - Tom Lehrer (parodist)

NDrLoR says
Why didn't she sing a song about ugly Soviet Bloc housing where people lived in barely heated areas with two or three families and a communal toilet down the hall and where Big Brother could listen in all the time. Where the women stood in line for hours in hopes of getting a crust of stale bread.


Because the USSR was the POC of the 1960s; Oikophobia.

I dream of Zoomers protesting Free Shit, Sanctimonious Upper Middle Class Twits, and their fake PhD in a bullshit subject.

about   best comments   contact   one year ago   suggestions