The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Monday, February 09, 2004

If you want to know why your Bay Area dwelling is so expensive, one reason is that people are actively engaged in trying to keep land out of the hands of homeowners:

Yet in recent decades, encroaching sprawl and economic conditions have compelled many local land owners to sell their land and relinquish a way of life that has sustained some families for five generations. Urban development -- along with traffic congestion and air and water pollution -- are damaging the rugged character of the coast.

Now we have an opportunity to buck the trend. On Wednesday, the Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission will hold a public hearing on the Coastside Protection Program, a proposal to extend the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District's boundaries so coastal land can be preserved for open space and farming. Because current district boundaries cross both Santa Clara and San Mateo county lines, hearings will be held in both counties, with the San Mateo commission having the final say.


In addition to preserving land as open space, the plan will preserve coastal farming by purchasing agricultural easements -- property agreements that set aside land for farming and ranching. In response to community concerns, the open space district has also agreed to permanently eliminate its power of eminent domain in the coastside protection area.


The Open Space District's conservation efforts seem to be about half voluntary and half coercive; they are paying easements to farmers, but those farmers must know that many people on the coast would do everything in their power to stop farms from being sold to developers. (I am not exaggerating; in 1996 the nearly completed Beach House Inn was destroyed in an arson fire.) Taking this much land out of supply raises housing prices for everyone.

Too many people act as though their love for the environment and their concern for the homeless are twin pillars of benificence. They are members of a congregation that is never challenged, only soothed and praised. Yet they do far more than any greedy slumlord to exploit the poor. (To see how ridiculous "green" beliefs are, consider how developers are demonized. If you are opposed to homelessness, why treat so badly the people who build homes?)



Post a Comment