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Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Portland's city council set a new bar for North American housing reform Wednesday by legalizing up to four homes on almost any residential lot. Portland's new rules will also offer a "deeper affordability" option: four to six homes on any lot if at least half are available to low-income Portlanders at regulated, affordable prices. The measure will make it viable for nonprofits to intersperse below-market housing anywhere in the city for the first time in a century.

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Very interesting. I'll have to read more before I feel comfortable offering a definitive opinion of this specific plan. Conceptually it sounds cool. American development and zoning laws for decades have discouraged the old-fashioned kinds of neighborhoods many people find most appealing. New Urbanism such as that employed very successfully by DPZ and other developers has reversed the strict zoning approach and brought mixed land uses and, to a lesser extent, mixed incomes, back to many locations across America.

The basic idea is to allow someone to have their shop on the ground floor and to live in the upper floors. And maybe the mother-in-law or the adult children could live in another dwelling on the same lot. Your employees could live a few doors down. The banker, schoolteacher and pastor could live in the same block as well. And there's less dependence on the automobile.

#1 | Posted by cbob at 2020-08-12 06:50 PM | Reply

The original headline referenced Seattle.

What's happened in Seattle sounds like it would create more affordable housing...

So in the U-District they raised the building height from 60' to 80'.

The effect is what were old Victorian era bungalows which might have held five or eight students are being replaced with four-story single-lot apartment buildings with sixteen units. Or the quad-plexes described above. Which are zero lot line ugly buildings with no soul.

The new housing ins't affordable. It's more expensive than what replaced it. As obviously it would have to be, or why bother building it?

The only winners in Seattle are the developers. Housing prices have gone way, way up; far outpacing inflation. I know a few poor people who had to leave their building, a former Victorian mansion cut up into 20 units. It wasn't a very nice place but it was affordable and they have been there for a decade. The new units won't be cheaper. They'll cost twice as much.

Rent seeking behavior, including building more rentals, is not an economic benefit to the community. It just isn't. Rate of owner-occupied housing is still an indicator of how good a neighborhood is.

#2 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-12 07:24 PM | Reply

#2

You are exactly correct. By basically eliminating any zoning below R4 the city now has built in an incentive for developers to go into older neighborhoods, tear out SFRs and build multiunit condos on small lots. San Francisco tried this in the Sunset and Richmond districts in the 30s and again in the 50s and it still is a disaster.

#3 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2020-08-12 07:44 PM | Reply

Considering how the right always claims the west coast cities are dying and people are leaving .. here in Portland there has been a boom of new construction . Everywhere you go you see new buildings going up.
This zoning law will help tremendously to help with low income availability.

#4 | Posted by 503jc69 at 2020-08-13 08:45 AM | Reply

Considering how the right always claims the west coast cities are dying and people are leaving ..

#4 | POSTED BY 503JC69 AT 2020-08-13 08:45 AM | FLAG:

California says people are leaving. It has a negative net domestic migration. It's more than offset by foreign immigration and birth rate.

lao.ca.gov

The issue with the West Coast is the same issue in the NE. NIMBY regulations lead to massively inflated housing costs and restricted supply.

#5 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2020-08-13 08:50 AM | Reply

I lived in the U district in '95... back then most of that neighborhood was already old houses chopped up into rooms for rent. My room was a closet in basically a crack house and wasn't cheap but was a great neighborhood to hang out doing mushrooms and playing hacky sack at 3 a.m.

I like flavor and history to buildings, but these cities need more housing, and until the market is flooded demand will keep prices very high IMO

#6 | Posted by 503jc69 at 2020-08-13 08:53 AM | Reply

I appreciate the perspectives of many of you on this thread. It's a complex issue. Once a city gets hot and housing prices soar, all kinds of weird things happen, and attempts to contain it always seem to have unintended consequences.

#7 | Posted by cbob at 2020-08-13 09:21 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

I say build tons of apartment buildings and flood the market. Get rent down to 650 for a 1 bedroom so everyone has an affordable place to live.

#8 | Posted by byrdman at 2020-08-13 09:22 AM | Reply

7

I agree. It is a complex issue. Trying to balance affordable living with a hot real estate market.

#9 | Posted by eberly at 2020-08-13 09:39 AM | Reply

I say build tons of apartment buildings and flood the market.

I don't.

That's trying to happen here (sans the low rent part, the newer places are often more pricey than the old) and the buildings are hideous, they crowd property lines of people who have owned their home/property for decades and is making my quaint suburb look like the city I left.

BTW the above is also happening in the city I left. New apartment complexes are never ever built with low rent in mind.

#10 | Posted by jpw at 2020-08-13 09:45 AM | Reply

Gentrification, it's not just for black neighborhoods.

#11 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2020-08-13 09:48 AM | Reply

BTW the above is also happening in the city I left. New apartment complexes are never ever built with low rent in mind.

#10 | POSTED BY JPW AT 2020-08-13 09:45 AM | REPLY | FLAG:

If you have too much supply the prices will go down. I have rented houses. If the property is vacant after a couple of months I would lower the price by 50 bucks to see if it would get rented. Keep easing it down until I had demand.

#12 | Posted by byrdman at 2020-08-13 09:55 AM | Reply

"I agree. It is a complex issue. Trying to balance affordable living with a hot real estate market."

It's really not that complicated. The market will always ensure that workers are paid enough that they can afford to live in an area where they can be an effective employee. The person working at McDonald's in Santa Monica is likely paid more than they would if they were living in Flint, but they would never earn enough that they could actually afford to live in Santa Monica.

Portland is known for doing stupid ----. In the late 1990s, the city wanted to install low income housing in Northwest Portland. The rationale was that the area was becoming too wealthy gentrified, and that the poor were being excluded from that area simply because they couldn't afford it.

I don't know if that ever went anywhere. I would imagine those who did own property wanted nothing to do with it.

#13 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 11:43 AM | Reply

It's really not that complicated. The market will always ensure that workers are paid enough that they can afford to live in an area where they can be an effective employee.

People are working 2 and 3 jobs to pay rent. You can't be effective working 90 hours a week. Employees are exhausted. Companies pay as low as possible. I know a guy who has a base salary of 60k in San Francisco. He works 16 hours a day so he can get enough overtime to live.

#14 | Posted by byrdman at 2020-08-13 12:23 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"The market will always ensure that workers are paid enough that they can afford to live in an area where they can be an effective employee."

Absolutely and provably untrue. Workers commute for hours to get to jobs that don't pay enough for them to live anywhere near where the job is. What is really happening is groups of people will rent a place and share it with as many as necessary to make each of their portions of the rent affordable. Have one across the street from our building, there are six cars parked there every night. All nice people, never had any problem with any of them but there must be 15 people living in that house.

#15 | Posted by danni at 2020-08-13 12:35 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"People desperate to live in incredibly expensive places are working 2 and 3 jobs to pay rent."

ft

How is it possible for these people to live there when it's too expensive?

I can't pack up, move to San Diego, and expect to live in a 3,000 sq ft beach house on a job earning $50K a year, right?

That's insane to expect that.

what are these people expecting living in places like Portland, where their wages are not very high???

#16 | Posted by eberly at 2020-08-13 12:43 PM | Reply

16 | POSTED BY EBERLY AT 2020-08-13 12:43 PM | REPLY |

Some people grew up in the area and that is all they know. The parents owned their home for many years before it got expensive and the kids move out and they can't afford crap so they get stuck living like sardines and or working multiple jobs. Remember too that a lot of times the decent jobs are in high cost of living areas. Sure you can live in liberal Kansas and pay 500 a month rent but job opportunities may suffer.

#17 | Posted by byrdman at 2020-08-13 12:52 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#14

Yup.

Happens a lot. But your friend isn't obligated to live in San Francisco. He chooses to.

Think about all the ski instructors living in Vail, making $11 an hour. Crowding as many people as they can into a cheap apartment so they can afford to live.

They don't do it because they have to, they do it because they're getting paid to ski at one of the world's premier ski resorts.

And that's why they do it. They could easily do something else in a less expensive area earning more money, but they wouldn't be doing what they want in an area that they want. And it would be ridiculous to suggest that the town of Vail should install low income housing so that the ski instructors or service industry workers could have nicer housing. Because in reality, if those people did start fleeing for more lucrative areas, the leisure industry would have no choice but to pay them more.

#18 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 01:20 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"Workers commute for hours to get to jobs that don't pay enough for them to live anywhere near where the job is."

Look at housing in the Bay Area. If you're working in Silicon Valley and want to buy a house, you'd better have a million in cash and be ready to drop it on a moment's notice. The relatively plain houses in my grandmother's old neighborhood in south San Jose start in the high ---- range and go up from there. That's for a house in the 1200 square foot range.

But, you go a little further east, and you can find a big home for $400k. It's a longer commute, but affordable.

#19 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 01:30 PM | Reply

"Remember too that a lot of times the decent jobs are in high cost of living areas. Sure you can live in liberal Kansas and pay 500 a month rent but job opportunities may suffer."

That's not exactly true. What constitutes a decent job is somewhat subjective, but if you're talking about areas where your income provides sufficient purchasing power, there are many small to medium sized cities were that is a possibility.

As an O-5 in the military, I earn just under $150k after taxes. If I were to relocate to any of the areas my family comes from in the Bay Area, I would be poor. There's no way I could afford to live there. But in Bossier City Louisiana, the last place I lived in the US, I pretty much had my pick of properties.

#20 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 01:35 PM | Reply

If I were to relocate to any of the areas my family comes from in the Bay Area, I would be poor.

Depending on how the duty station's BAH plays out and whether you get COLA too.

#21 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2020-08-13 01:40 PM | Reply

Hawaii is expensive to live on, and I'm hoping to avoid living there, but the financial benefits are there as well. Plenty of stories of folks stationed there, buying a property, selling it after 2-3 years, and making 20k+

#22 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2020-08-13 01:44 PM | Reply

"Depending on how the duty station's BAH plays out and whether you get COLA too."

Are you military? Don't answer if you're uncomfortable doing so.

I was using current income as a reference point. BAH for an O-5 with dependents in Santa Clara county is over $6k per month. So you could very easily afford a $1M+ house.

#23 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 02:26 PM | Reply

#22

Before I moved to Deutschland I was planning on moving to HI. You can get new builds on the west side of the island for ~$750k.

The thing I was told about Hawaii was that there are three things you care about. Your house payment, your commute, and your school district. With the amount of money you'll earn, you can get two of the three, but never all three. And really in Hawaii you probably want to put your kids in private school.

#24 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 02:28 PM | Reply

I don't know anyone personally who did it, but I was told that there people who would kayak across from the Ewa beach are to work every morning...just to avoid the commute.

#25 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 02:33 PM | Reply

If high cost areas wanted to do something to benefit the low income earners, maybe the answer is a luxury tax levied at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, hotels, etc. That could be used to subsidize housing costs.

#26 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 02:44 PM | Reply

and until the market is flooded demand will keep prices very high IMO
#6 | POSTED BY 503JC69

The housing market is already flooded.
San Diego has something like 10,000 homeless people and 50,000 vacant housing units.

Housing prices don't come down.

That's not how Capitalism works.

#27 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 02:52 PM | Reply

That's not how Capitalism works.
#27 | POSTED BY SNOOFY

Thanks AirB&B! I'll never be able to afford a home in my own hometown.

#28 | Posted by rstybeach11 at 2020-08-13 03:03 PM | Reply

"Housing prices don't come down."

Detroit?

#29 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 03:09 PM | Reply

San Diego has something like 10,000 homeless people and 50,000 vacant housing units.
Housing prices don't come down.
That's not how Capitalism works.

#27 | POSTED BY SNOOFY AT 2020-08-13 02:52 PM | FLAG:

Snoofy, you suck at Capitalism and are one of the last people to insist on how it works. Per San Diego's own study, those "vacant" homes are primarily vacation and rental properties that make up 5% of their market. A healthy market is considered to have 8% vacancy by those numbers, San Diego is way below average at 4.7%.

You're a Housing Denier. Hilarious.

www.voiceofsandiego.org

"San Diego County has failed to build enough homes to keep pace with the rate of economic and population growth for many decades. That's true not just of San Diego, but the rest of coastal California, too."

It's 3 times behind where it needs to be per the cities own study.

#30 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2020-08-13 03:14 PM | Reply

It's 3 times behind where it needs to be per the cities own study.
#30 | POSTED BY SITZKRIEG

The USD Economic Round Table in January hit on exactly this. Affordable housing is lagging far behind because any housing that is built is put on the vacation rental market for out of state buyers to pay cash. IOW, those middle-class folks, like myself, who would require a 30 year mortgage to buy a home are not necessarily outbid by out of state investors, but the fact they come in with cash is far more attractive of a deal. We have a ---- ton of places for vacationers to stay, but running out of places for the local workers to stay.

AirB&B is not a popular company in my circles because of its negative impact regarding the above.

#31 | Posted by rstybeach11 at 2020-08-13 03:19 PM | Reply

"San Diego County has failed to build enough homes to keep pace with the rate of economic and population growth for many decades. That's true not just of San Diego, but the rest of coastal California, too."

San Diego County isn't a homebuilder, Sitzkrieg.

#32 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:24 PM | Reply

#31

So you're not San Diego material? Me neither. Too poor.

So maybe you, like me, should find a job in some place where housing costs are within your budget.

I expect that most people in San Diego (and everywhere) will always prefer tourists coming in to spend money over poorer locals.

#33 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 03:24 PM | Reply

"Affordable housing is lagging far behind because any housing that is built is put on the vacation rental market for out of state buyers to pay cash."

That's correct.

I lived in various AirBnBs for six months in San Diego.

It's a better deal for most homeowners than getting an actual roommate.

Thanks, Capitalism!

#34 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:25 PM | Reply

"So maybe you, like me, should find a job in some place where housing costs are within your budget."

Uncle Sam finds where you live.

We should all just become property of the US Government.

Problem solved!

#35 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:29 PM | Reply

I expect that most people in San Diego (and everywhere) will always prefer tourists coming in to spend money over poorer locals.
#33 | POSTED BY MADBOMBER

It's those poorer locals I've committed to serve in my career.

I'm not going anywhere, even if that means being a renter for life.

#36 | Posted by rstybeach11 at 2020-08-13 03:29 PM | Reply

It's a better deal for most homeowners than getting an actual roommate.
Thanks, Capitalism!
#34 | POSTED BY SNOOFY

My buddy was doing exactly this, until his HOA said he couldn't.

---- HOAs and their racist origination.

#37 | Posted by rstybeach11 at 2020-08-13 03:32 PM | Reply

Real estate is generally considered one of the best and safest investments over the long term.

Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households.

The effect is conversion of owner occupied properties for the poor to income properties for the rich.

The wealth trickles up.

Thanks, Capitalism!

#38 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:32 PM | Reply

I expect that most people in San Diego (and everywhere) will always prefer tourists coming in to spend money over poorer locals.
#33 | POSTED BY MADTOSSER

I expect people living in Germany not to have any idea about people in San Diego.

Thanks for proving me right.

#39 | Posted by ClownShack at 2020-08-13 03:33 PM | Reply

Yeah the anti AirBnB sentiment is pretty strong here.

#40 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:36 PM | Reply

"Uncle Sam finds where you live."

No, uncle Sam does not find where I live. Uncle Sam tells me where I have to go, but it's up to me to find a house.

"It's those poorer locals I've committed to serve in my career. I'm not going anywhere, even if that means being a renter for life."

Absolutely nothing wrong with that. You're like the dude who wants to remain a ski instructor in Vail, even though they know they'll never make much money, and will certainly never be able to afford a house. But if you're doing something you're passionate about, does it really matter?

I rent a house in Germany. I could probably buy one, but it would be very difficult and potentially very risky. But I'll take renting in DEU over owning in the US. At least for the next few years.

#41 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 03:38 PM | Reply

"I expect people living in Germany not to have any idea about people in San Diego."

Well, I did live there once upon a time.

But who knows, maybe SD doesn't want tourists. It's fine with me one way or the other.

#42 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 03:39 PM | Reply

It's really not that complicated. The market will always ensure that workers are paid enough that they can afford to live in an area where they can be an effective employee.
#13 | POSTED BY MADBOMBER

LOL a mere five posts later

Yup.
Happens a lot. But your friend isn't obligated to live in San Francisco. He chooses to.
Think about all the ski instructors living in Vail, making $11 an hour. Crowding as many people as they can into a cheap apartment so they can afford to live.
#18 | POSTED BY MADBOMBER

#43 | Posted by jpw at 2020-08-13 03:41 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

"Yeah the anti AirBnB sentiment is pretty strong here."

Soo...they don't want tourists coming in?

Couldn't the city or state simply impose a high luxury or vacation tax on AirBnB properties? Drive the tourists away?

#44 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 03:41 PM | Reply

My buddy was doing exactly this, until his HOA said he couldn't.
---- HOAs and their racist origination.
#37 | POSTED BY RSTYBEACH11

There's a ton of places in San Diego I would never consider living.

Most were built since 1975. Cookie cutter houses, duplexes, quads, crammed into zero lot line cul de sacs and you need a car to get anywhere, unless you want to walk an hour to the store.

It's an embarrassment. If I live long enough I fully expect it to become the next wave of urban blight.

#45 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:41 PM | Reply

Couldn't the city or state simply impose a high luxury or vacation tax on AirBnB properties? Drive the tourists away?
#44 | POSTED BY MADBOMBER

Listen to you.

Does that really sound like a thing Republicans are going to do?

#46 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:43 PM | Reply

"LOL a mere five posts later"

Maybe you can explain to me how each statement conflicts with the other.

#47 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 03:45 PM | Reply

"Listen to you. Does that really sound like a thing Republicans are going to do?"

Yeah...if the anti AirBnB is strong there.

If a city doesn't want tourists coming in, there are many ways to drive them out.

Maybe I can be an anti-tourism consultant for the city of San Diego.

#48 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-13 03:47 PM | Reply

Maybe you can explain to me how each statement conflicts with the other.

#47 | POSTED BY MADBOMBER

Wow. You really need that explained?

#49 | Posted by jpw at 2020-08-13 03:50 PM | Reply

The market will ensure overcrowding and rent-seeking behavior?

Looks like I agree with Madbomber.

#50 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-08-13 03:52 PM | Reply

Maybe I can be an anti-tourism consultant for the city of San Diego.

#48 | Posted by madbomber

Yeah working hard to harm your local economy sounds is what we all expect of your type.

#51 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2020-08-13 03:53 PM | Reply

#48 | POSTED BY MADBOMBER

I said the anti-AB&B sentiment is strong in my circles (i.e., those that serve the underprivileged and vulnerable), not the entirety of San Diego as a whole.

#52 | Posted by rstybeach11 at 2020-08-13 04:00 PM | Reply

"Wow. You really need that explained?"

I guess I do. I see the two statements complimenting each other. Not conflicting with each other.

"I said the anti-AB&B sentiment is strong in my circles (i.e., those that serve the underprivileged and vulnerable), not the entirety of San Diego as a whole."

Because they would be better off if there were less tourists in the city???

Maybe they should relocate to somewhere with fewer tourists.

#54 | Posted by madbomber at 2020-08-14 08:48 AM | Reply

BAH for an O-5 with dependents in Santa Clara county is over $6k per month. - MADBOMBER

And then if they're lucky enough to find their one and be dual mil senior O's... now that's cash money.
Haha, hadn't heard about people commuting via kayak. Probably the same type of folks who run-commute to PT/work.

#55 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2020-08-14 08:55 AM | Reply

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