New Yorkers figure out the best place to park millions of immigrants…

… and it turns out that the answer is not “New York.”

From the virtuous Editorial Board of the New York Times, “California Has a Housing Crisis. The Answer Is More Housing.”:

California finally is beginning to consider solutions to its housing crisis that are on the same scale as the problem.

The state is desperately in need of more housing. Home prices are the highest in the continental United States, and population growth continues to outstrip construction.

The city of Los Angeles calculates that 43 percent of its developable land would be opened to higher-density development. For wealthy cities like Palo Alto, the Silicon Valley community that abuts Stanford University, the legislation could increase permissible density virtually everywhere. Palo Alto has two commuter rail stations, but like much of suburban California, it has long resisted construction of anything but detached, single-family homes.

The state’s population continues to grow; the question confronting policymakers is where to put those people.

Did they forget about quality of life? That a resident of Los Angeles might spend five hours per day commuting through traffic jams? That California city-dwellers might have to travel for 30 minutes or more to find a green park? The existing Blade Runner-type crowding is acknowledged, but it turns out to be a good thing for Mother Earth:

The bill also is a necessary piece of the response to another crisis: climate change. Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles — landscapes of tall buildings, concrete and traffic-clogged streets — are the most environmentally friendly places for human life on earth. The Harvard economist Edward Glaeser has calculated that the residents of California’s core cities use about one-fourth less carbon per year than the residents of the surrounding suburbs. Better yet, the residents of California’s cities use less carbon than the residents of any other large American cities because the temperate climate limits the use of air-conditioning and heating.

It is time to rewrite the rules: The solution to California’s housing crisis is more housing.

(Do we believe this? These “are the most environmentally friendly places for human life on earth”? A resident of Los Angeles generates less CO2 than someone who lives in Ethiopia or Madagascar? (Wikipedia per-capita CO2 emissions) Or maybe they are saving the planet by sending healing vibes?)

Readers: Does it show a lack of self-awareness to publish something like this? Saying that people on the other side of the country need to suck it up and wait a few more hours in traffic every week for the good of Planet Earth?

18 thoughts on “New Yorkers figure out the best place to park millions of immigrants…

  1. Sounds like a plan. Here is what we can do in six easy steps.
    (i) Finally admit that we conspired with Russia and rent out a few dozen unused GULAG labor camps on the cheap. Make it an Unassailable Freedom Zone: no one who crossed the perimeter ever reached the nearest major city.
    (ii) Resettle prospective refugees who came to the US illegally in the safety and vastness of the Siberian land until the court hearings, perhaps some 60 years later. (This is a truly Australian way of coping with illegal immigration.)
    (iii) Move refugees from the Guantanamo camps over to Canada: they should accept them as being persecuted by the fascist USA on false charges of terrorism. Ask the Canadian government to fairly compensate us for enriching their nation; use the proceeds to fund Medicare For All in Guantanamo.
    (iv) Appoint Cory Booker the Spartacus the Viceroy of Guantanamo in charge of “Medicare and All”. Make sure he lives there full-time (if needed, support that with an investigation into de-frauding Zuckerberg and his wife.) Allow West Coast states to move their homeless population to Guantanamo for a generous 7-digit federal fee per head.
    (v) ???
    (vi) Profit. Prosperity. Democracy. Happiness for all.

  2. Did they forget about quality of life? That a resident of Los Angeles might spend five hours per day commuting through traffic jams?

    That’s exactly the opposite of the way things work, especially up in the Bay Area. The high cost of housing near the centers of employment causes people to live far away from where they work. Cheaper housing near the center of the metropolitan should reduce the amount of time trapped in cars.

    • That makes sense, Vince. California currently has a population of 40 million, 10X the level of 100 years ago when Los Angeles and San Francisco were established as cities. If the wise central planners built 20 million additional units of housing (enough for 40 million people given how fragmented American households are these days) either in downtown LA and SF or at rail stations nearby, the resulting population of 80 million (the existing houses aren’t going to become vacant, right?) would enjoy shorter commuting times and reduced traffic. (The SF metro area would grow to have the population of Delhi and the LA metro area would grow to have the population of Greater Tokyo.)

    • The editorial cites a study that says that 3.5 million housing units are needed. I haven’t seen any proposal to build 20 million, even from the most ardent supporters of SB 50. If we’re going to waste a few minutes of our lives, we can only speculate about what would occur if six times that amount were built. It’s quite likely that much of that housing would, in fact, never be occupied. During the housing bubble that burst 10 or 11 years ago there some builders who ended tearing down nearly completed houses that they couldn’t sell.

    • Apropos of Tokyo, based on my two weeks there, it seemed like a very livable city notwithstanding its size because of the high quality of government services and diligent workforce. Large US municipalities typically have low quality government services because of among other things corruption and unionization of the public sector. It is hard to imagine in a city like NY the government doing anything competently — e.g., having a mass transit system like Tokyo’s, picking the litter off of the streets, treating the deranged rather than allowing them to wander the streets and camp out on the sidewalk. I imagine LA & SF would be pretty similar to NYC.

  3. Two things I always thought were obvious when reading articles such as these:
    1. Desirable neighborhoods such as in Palo Alto are desirable precisely because they mostly composed of detached single family homes. High density development makes the neighborhood less desirable.
    2. You can move the people closer to the jobs, or move the jobs closer to the people. Isn’t this a free market problem? I keep reading about the housing crisis yet I see plenty of empty land 10 miles East of where I live. Not everybody can live on the coast. We all don’t get to drive new BMW’s either.

  4. Maybe the government should force companies which make software for working remotely to use their own product. Technically, millenials chose cities to avoid commuting, so urbanization does reduce gas consumption.

  5. The root cause of San Francisco’s (and presumably LA’s) housing crisis is well-known: well-off NIMBYs blocking the construction of higher-density housing in their neighborhoods. The fact it prevents poor brown people from moving in is a bonus. Drape yourself in noble rhetoric about neighborhood character to mask your hypocrisy.

    New Yorkers may be annoying in their tendency to give lessons to others, but the Bay Area has basically been driving economic growth in the last decade or two, because it is the center of tech as opposed to the rentier finance capitalism of New York. Thus anything that is throttling growth there is not just a matter of local interest but of concern to the entire nation and also the world economy.

    As for LA traffic jams, they are not due to density directly, but an inadequate supply of freeways, far fewer per resident than other major metro areas. What LA needs is more freeways, not rail white elephants.

    • At some point people have to get off a freeway – where is the parking and surface street capacity?

      Why invest in freeways when driverless cars will alter transport within 20 years?

      Rail hubs and then short-hop driverless seem like a good balance.

  6. Have you seen this month’s issue of the MIT Technology Review? MIT has now given its official blessing to the idea that avoiding catastrophic suffering as a result of climate change is impossible. What argument can anyone hope to make? The NYT has identified this plan as a “necessary response” to the crisis. That’s all anyone needs to know. There isn’t going to be any more debate.

    The Good Life is OVER Philip. MIT Technology review is contemplating global one-child policies, mandatory abortions, euthanasia and whatever else it takes to keep some vestige of humanity alive through the coming apocalypse.

    This is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, not some Japanese death cult or Jim Jones Socialist acolytes. How is anyone going to argue with MIT? Call them all stupid?

    Goodbye, good life
    Global warming cannot be properly understood or addressed in isolation. Even if we somehow “solved” geopolitics, war, and economic inequality in order to rebuild our global energy system, we would still need to address the ongoing collapse of the biosphere, the carcinogenic toxins we’ve spread across the world, ocean acidification, imminent crises in industrial agriculture, and overpopulation. There is no realistic plan for global-warming mitigation, for instance, that doesn’t include some kind of control on population growth—which means what exactly? Education and birth control seem reasonable enough, but then? A global one-child policy? Mandatory abortions? Euthanasia? It is easy to see how complex and contentious the problem swiftly becomes. What’s more, Earth’s climate is not a thermostat. There is little reason to suppose that we can dump a bunch of carbon into the atmosphere, radically shock the entire global climate system, and then pause it like a video game.

    Ultimately, of course, climate change affects everyone. To grasp what that really means, read Paolo Bacigalupi’s chilling fictional depiction of a near-future America, and Roy Scranton’s essay on how living with climate change will mean ditching some of our most basic assumptions about what constitutes a normal, good life. Start preparing mentally for this new world. Because to take action on either mitigation or adaptation, one first needs to be able to visualize the suffering.

    Just above that is a form asking people to enter their email address:
    “Sign up for fwd: Economy — your guide to growth and prosperity in the age of technology.”


  7. I mean Philip, really. Is this the University that MIT has become? A completely freaked-out borderline suicidal bunch of maniacs contemplating the end of the world because it’s *already here* there’s nothing we can do about it?

    “The planet is approaching, or already crossing, several key thresholds, beyond which the conditions that have fostered human life for the past 10,000 years no longer hold.”

    Well, that settles it. We’re not just all going to die! We’re already dead!

    I don’t understand what building more housing in Los Angeles and Palo Alto is going to do to prevent it, either. I mean, it’s already happened!

    Are the people who publish MIT Technology Review representative of the views of MIT as an institution? If they are, the whole place should be on suicide watch in a rubber room.

    • What’s your suggestion – ignore climate change altogether and deny all science? Your reaction to the article is more hysterical then anything in it.

    • says that the author has a Ph.D. in English. So he is well qualified to write an article, such as this one, in the English language!

      “That much warming, that quickly—12 °C within a hundred years—would be such an abrupt and radical environmental shift that it’s difficult to imagine a large, warm-blooded mammalian apex predator like Homo sapiens surviving in significant numbers. … the strong possibility that our great-grandchildren may be the last generation of humans ever to live on planet Earth”

      It does seem to strange to say that 12C in warming means the end of humanity. Assuming that they can defend their borders from Hollywood stars resisting Donald Trump and the rabble seeking food, the Canadians, for example, shouldn’t be uncomfortably hot or short of food/water. Right now with their project, Canadians are putting tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Maybe they realize that not everyone will be a loser, as this author suggests! Maybe we need a new #CanadiansAreHumansToo campaign.

  8. The five hours in traffic is a feature, not a bug. The masses aren’t going to immiserate themselves!

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