Sacramento Grabs Power, Control, and Cash, Starting with SB 902 and 8 Other Proposed Laws
California Legislature Moves to Take Over our Zoning and Densify LA, SF and San Diego.
July 30, 2020
In reading through the nine proposed laws sitting in our state legislature now, each of which would do its part to kill single-family housing and densify neighborhoods, the rationale for this concerted, ruthless effort to drastically change the very structure of our landscape and society is difficult to grasp.
But we're game to try.
The laws proposed are SB 902, SB 1120, SB 995, SB 1085, AB 725, AB 1279, AB 2345, AB 3040, and AB 3107.
First of all, let's dispose of the idea the densification, land-control grab is about solving a housing crisis. There is no housing crisis. Housing costs are high in California because it's a desirable place to live. If you want to live where everyone else wants to live, you are going to have to pay more for that amenity. The rational solution to make sure lower-paid workers, like Starbucks baristas, gardeners, and grocery store clerks, can afford to live here is to pay them more. Wages will go up automatically if we stop subsidizing employers by helping to solve their problem of attracting workers to an area of high housing costs. And yes, that means your cappuccino is going to cost more, a lot more. So maybe you don't want to live in California, after all.
But if, in fact, some of our elected leaders are attempting to solve a housing crisis with their piecemeal density bonuses for affordable units and their odd encouragement of garden apartments, then that would lead us to our first possible true rationale.
Given that one of the assembly bills, AB 2345, is co-authored by Lorena Gonzalez, the rocket scientist who gave us the job-killing gig economy law, there is some potential for the argument that the state's legislators simply do not understand what the hell they are doing.
In several of the proposed bills, the argument is proposed that the state needs "missing-middle" type of housing, duplexes and fourplexes. The thinking is that such housing wouldn't unduly affect the look and feel of a single-family neighborhood (you think?). This sort of construction would "help the pool of homebuilders" because single-family home contractors would be able to handle the type of construction (this is an important consideration?). And at the same time, these garden apartments would be less expensive than owning a single-family home (but probably not by much).
This is exactly the sort of top-down thinking that can really screw up any public policy situation. The experts know what this state needs! They know what you need better than you know it yourself. Over and over, this attempt to direct and control the masses shows itself to be completely inadequate.
In fact, knowledge is spread throughout the masses. If one allows the masses to apply their knowledge, and you come up with the most efficient solution that pleases the most people.
In thinking they are so smart, legislators who attempt to direct resources inevitably prove themselves to be idiotic.
Panic over the state's coffers
Another possible reason our state legislators are desperate to build 1.8 million more housing units is panic over the budget. 19 percent of the state's population live under the poverty level. That means handouts. In addition, the state has an unfunded liability regarding public pensions to the tune of $93.1 billion. For too long, the state did not ask for enough contribution to these plans from either public employers or public employees. With fewer younger public employees paying in every year to help prop up the pension funds, the problem continues to worsen. Dwindling capital to pay off liabilities is an issue endemic to ponzi schemes, and public pensions are precisely that.
So the state legislature is seeking new income, and they believe building housing would provide it. There are payroll taxes on the workers building it, there are bureaucratic licensing and permit fees, and last, but not least, there will be a larger tax base from which to draw income, sales, and other taxes.
Of course, the government will have to shell out additional money for more police, fire, schools, and so forth, but they can always skimp on those niceties if they have to. (They will.)
The list of supporters of the densification legislation include building contractor and realtor associations, Facebook, and other special interest groups. Surprisingly missing are any big developers or their associated organizations. Weird. One would think developers would be the first to say "aye" to legislation that will allow them to make a killing.
Who knows? Maybe wealthy developers are already supporting this legislation - indeed, writing it - in less obtrusive ways. Behind-the-scenes type of ways. Under-the-table type of ways.
But I'm sure any of our honestly elected leaders in office would be too moral and sincere to be influenced by someone with a lot of money. Of course not.
Radical Progressive Ideology
Buried in the rationale given for several of the proposed laws, mentioned in passing as if unimportant, are huge hints that a radical political ideology is at play. In the comments for AB 725 (allowing higher density in every neighborhood), we see that this bill "addresses exclusionary zoning practices in high-resource areas, which exacerbate racial and economic segregation..."
It is "exclusionary" for you to buy your way into a good neighborhood. ("High-resource" is defined as clean, safe, and with high-quality public schools.) That isn't fair. Your hard work should not be able to buy you better things. Your fellow's laziness or lack of talent should not exclude him from the same better things. That's economic segregation!
Meanwhile, the implied racism of the statement is amazing. From the author's point of view, racial segregation is inevitable if one allows people with money to buy nice houses in good neighborhoods. Really? Isn't it possible for a person of a minority race to work hard, make money, and buy a nice house in a high-resource neighborhood? Don't they have the brains and talent to do so? Why would you not believe that?
But of course, for the far-left progressive, it is imperative that blacks remain an oppressed minority, and they will do everything in their power to keep it that way. Including making sure blacks cannot succeed. As evidenced by the civil unrest apparently sparked by the murder of African-American George Floyd by a white police officer, cries of racism and appeals for "justice" are a very, very effective tool for Marxists and anarchists who want to destroy the fabric and foundation of American society. For example, Black Lives Matter, an avowedly Marxist organization, has purportedly collected over $100 million from various corporations and individual donations. That's an awful lot of money. An awful lot of power. Who would want to give up a gig like that for the true betterment of African-Americans?
Unfortunately, truly well-meaning individuals - maybe even some well-intentioned state legislators - are taken in by the calls for equity and the high-sounding ideals of fairness and a good life for everyone. But underneath it all is a totalitarian monster who intends to use such clueless tools to reshape society in the way the monster would prefer. Control must be mustered over who lives where, who works at what job, and eventually, over every aspect of our lives. Considering the type of legislation one sees coming out of Sacramento, and the proposed legislation Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has publicized, it is not possible to dispute the totalitarian aspirations of the proposed laws and policies. It is the fundamental nature of governments to become totalitarian. That was the whole point of our nation's Constitution: to limit the power of government. Undermining the objectives of the Constitution in the name of "equity," "fairness," or "social justice" does not actually create any of those things. It only creates servitude and misery.
Which rationale is the true reason for the land-grab legislation?
Do we have to pick only one? All of them are probably true. Some of our elected leaders are well-meaning but ignorant and not very smart. Some are willing to compromise ideals and principles to solve a budget problem caused by irresponsible predecessors (or themselves). Unfortunately, some are probably on the take. And others are either the ringleaders or the feckless tools of a totalitarian political ideology that seeks to fundamentally destroy our free society and replace it with a "utopia" of their own devising. The end result is the same in either case, and that is to the delight of the radical totalitarian.