April 28, 2019

Deceptive Narrative

The Deceptive Narrative


Follow the overarching narrative on sb50 that is being promulgated by the media, supporters of sb50 & sb330, and your legislators.

Beginning with the title of the two Senate bills:

sb50 “The More Homes Act”

The misleading title with the use of “homes,” instead of the more appropriate and accurate “apartments,” would do more to inform the public of the intent of the Building Industry and Senators Wiener and Skinner.

Sb50 has no inclusion of single-family homes in the bill.  It is an Act that will escalate the building of for-rent apartments in single-family home neighborhoods.

The lower income segment of our communities, our poorer families, are upset that the builders are not offering “for sale” units, no longer are required to provide parking spaces or garages, and no form of equity, which others enjoy from paying off mortgages, will be offered during their occupation in the new “homes.”

They are also opposing the bill because unless the “in-lieu fee” is fixed, no affordable homes will be included in many new projects which means their poorer neighborhoods will be gentrified.  So much for moving to the “high resource areas” defined by “jobs-rich” in the text of the bill.

Along our coasts, the developers of “Jobs Rich” and Transit Priority Areas (TPAs) have made it clear that they intend to submit development applications for projects that are luxury apartment towers. Tall towers that will take advantage of bay and ocean views, pricing them above-market rate, with no affordable housing built on-site.  

As as much as developers argue that including affordable units “doesn’t pencil,” the real reason becomes apparent by the time the units are built and marketed: the adjectives “affordable” or “inclusioning-housing” are non-starters for marketing materials and brochures to attract renters they target.

They made it clear that they will utilize the loophole of the “In-lieu fee” to pay a penalty that is not commensurate to the “crime” of not building responsibly.  Click the commensurate link and do the math,

Building responsibly means providing the much needed housing stock of “affordable” homes, whether they are called homes or apartments.

The Morena Corridor Specific Plan is the quintessential example of this.

In real estate jargon, developers are required by shareholders to utilize the “highest and best use” of the land.

Given the current market for upper-scale millennials that want to live more “mobile” in a VRBO lifestyle, developers will capitalize on the trend.  Millennials may love the classy new cable-ready apartment rentals today, but when the HOA cites them for playing their music too loud, or, what usually happens, mama gets pregnant and wants the peace and serenity of a single-family home, the trend fades.

LA Times-sb50 Carve Outs  

Sb50 has certain “carve outs” in the new language of the bill that will “exempt” some coastal areas, such as Marin, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara from the more egregious suspension or outright removals of height limits.

But those coastal neighborhoods who’ve been carved out of the bill will suffer enormous pressure, if not outright backlash, from the inland communities that are being asked to “sacrifice” implementation of unsustainable density and unlimited height maximums.   They will eventually demand that the coastal communities “suffer with the rest of us.”  In fact, if sb330 gets enacted, those “carve-outs” will eventually disappear. 




sb330- “The Housing Crisis Act of 2019”

The use of the word “crisis” is important for the deceptive narrative we see building in the LA Times reporting of single-family enclaves such as Hollister Ranch and Palo Alto.  Reporting, such as this, the narrative of “rich older single-family neighborhoods” are in the way of progress (multi-family units) sounds tantamount to sparking class warfare. 

If the adjective “affordable” was placed honestly and more accurately in front of the word “crisis,” the public would be better informed as to what housing we are speaking about.

Currently in the San Diego region, there is no lack of unaffordable housing on the market.  For example, in the luxury home market of La Jolla, California, there are 518 listed residential properties for sale, including single-family homes and condominiums.  Real estate signs are prohibited in La Jolla, so its not readily apparent.  In its nearby middle-income market, Bay Park, Bay Ho,and  Overlook Heights, there are 70 listed properties available.

There are plenty of position papers and academic studies that demonstrate the threshold of a new project’s required inclusion (10% of its units) to be  affordable (inclusionary housing guidelines and municipal code) is not only lacking, but sadly, continuing to build new projects with low thresholds of affordable units, will continue to exasperate the affordability of homes in an already sizzling escalation of home prices.

Adding more “housing” under this “crisis” will only add fuel to an out of control fire of unaffordability. Throw “supply-side” housing economics out the window where affordability is concerned.  It hasn’t worked yet in California, and never will.

Maybe its time that builders are required to build responsibly.  Californians don’t need more expensive housing stock.  If trickle-down worked, we wouldn’t be in our current “crisis.”

But the real danger is in the use of the word “crisis” without its appropriate adjective “affordable.”  Its political-speak is in its purest form!  Take a bit of truth “crisis,” and fail to add the adjective “affordable,” it becomes half-truth that is dangerous in legislative hands.

When a “crisis” is not accurately defined, proposed legislation can be highly deceptive.  The use of the word “crisis” also has implications of “executive order” and other grabs of political power to exploit, manipulate and control by State legislators.

Read the “Purpose” section of each bill.  No matter the trimmings or combination of other bills like sb4,  made today to get sb50 & sb330 passed this year, the true intent of the bills will reappear in one form or another, just as the purpose of last year’s defeated sb827 reappeared in the form of sb50 and sb330.

One need not look further than the new Parking Ordinance, enacted on 3/19/19,  to see that our San Diego City Council is keen on the use of the deceptive narrative.

It would have been more accurately and honestly represented with the appropriate adjective: the “NO” Parking Ordinance.

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