Re: Afforability
From: Brian Bartholomew (
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 13:07:16 -0800 (PST)
"Rob Sandelin" <floriferous [at]> writes:

> If housing development was cheap and easy everybody would be doing it.

That's exactly right.  If housing development was cheaper and easier,
lots more semi-poor people would be living in houses, all over the
world.  If a house was something you could bring home from the store
and pull a rip cord to inflate, then anybody who wanted to could be
living in a house.  The closest real world approach to this is
probably a yurt kit, which fits in a pickup truck.

> It's neither.

That's also exactly right.  I wonder why that is?  Why aren't there
yurt cohousings forming everywhere, full of people who've lost their
house to foreclosure?  Suppose you wanted to form a budget cohousing,
made from Katrina cottages at mobile home spacing with a center common
house, on a vacant lot urban enough to bicycle to shopping.  Let's say
$70K purchase price for each household.  This is affordable, and you
start by hiring construction workers to lay sewer pipes in the ground --

> The building permit department has so few permit applications that
> they have laid off 75% of their staff from 2 years ago.

-- but as soon as the caterpillars arrive, the remaining building
permit department shows up to stop you.  After they finish telling you
what they will permit you to build, your price will have increased
over three times, from $70K to the $250K we observe today.  This is
why the low end of housing costs as much as it does.  Where does the
political support for all this permitting come from?  Well, I've had a
cohouser tell me that she wasn't about to pay all that money into a
mortgage, only to have her resale value lowered by being next door to
a Katrina cottage.  The voters that want to raise the minimum price of
housing by political means have succeeded; the consequence is that
housing is now less affordable than it otherwise would be.

We will have affordable housing when home purchasers start telling the
neighbors they don't get a veto for cosmetics.


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