Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 2, 2015

Those who can

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

There has been a lot of focus on housing affordability so I just thought I’d throw another interesting analysis on the heap of all the others that are out there.  First, I just adore the Atlantic’s CityLab site, for anyone interested in the future of cities, it’s a great website.

Richard Florida, who writes a lot about the demographics of cities, pens an analysis about the roots of the housing affordability crisis.  Highlights:

the reality is that the current urban housing affordability crisis dates back quite a ways, as Wharton real estate economist Todd Sinai argues in a new policy brief. Yes, rents have been rising rapidly in some cities over the last few years. And yes, incomes have failed to keep pace with rising rents. But Sinai’s analysis shows what we see today is basically “the current manifestation of a long-run trend.”

The United States thus faces a problem that runs far deeper than just rent affordability in a few major cities. “It is true that, in many cities, rental costs are higher now than they were 10 years ago,” Sinai notes. “But 10 years ago, rental costs were higher than they were 10 years before that. Likewise, ownership costs have followed the same pattern.” The problem is long-term and pervasive. “It is hard to conclude that there is an affordability cliff from whence we can step back from the brink. Rather, the threat to housing affordability in this country is much more fundamental, and more economically pervasive,” the economist writes.

Ultimately, Sinai frames America’s worsening housing affordability crisis in unusually blunt and candid terms. “Already it is no longer the case that someone can automatically afford to live in the city in which she grew up,” he writes. “A debate needs to take place about the value our society should place on whether a household should have an unlimited right to choose where to live, and how much they should be insulated—if, at all—from the differences in cost.” The brutal reality may well be that more and more people will be unable to live in superstar cities, as they are sorted and shunted off into less desirable and less costly locations.

Naturally it’s easy for those of us that have the wherewithal to “afford” living where we would like either by inheriting our homes, purchasing early on, or by having sufficient income to do so now to shrug and say “too bad” to those that cannot.  But there is a cost to housing being limited to only those with sufficient income to afford to live in a certain community, it — in essence — changes the reflection of the community that some would elect to preserve.



  1. Housing costs is simply one element of an overall problem in the U.S. The gap between the have and the have-nots of our country is broadening with every month that passes. Our government officials are being paid $150,000 to $300,000 a year, yet they have a financial portfolio worth millions. These same government officials approve spending that supports just about every country in the world except our own. The waste of money is out of control and seems to have no end in sight. The country is never prepared for any emergencies and the recent review of airport security is a prime example of that. Rent control and housing costs are simply one part of an overall weakening of our foundation and our future. Are there simply too many things that need fixing, or can we step back and solve some larger issues that might positively impact housing costs? Whew!!

    Comment by Bill — June 2, 2015 @ 9:50 am

  2. I get a kick out of Social Engineer “intellectuals” who look at ‘trends” and, of course, all the trends interpret dire consequences for the world, the country, the town and the individual.. But, how else are they going to get published in a rag like The Atlantic, which used to be an interesting read, unless they preach the ‘woe is us’ left wing mantra. Send Florida back to Toronto.

    Comment by jack — June 2, 2015 @ 10:42 am

  3. I’d appreciate it if you’d define your terms a bit more. For instance, which government officials do you know that have portfolios worth millions? In Alameda? In California? In US? Which emergencies has any level of government not attempted to provide for? I’m not for or against what you may be saying, I just need you to expand your point so I can figure out what that may actually be. Thanks.

    Comment by Li_ — June 2, 2015 @ 10:52 am

  4. Florida is no leftist. He doesn’t care about anyone except his beloved knowledge workers. He’d be quite happy to make urban centers havens of the artisanal olive oil-buying class and do banish others to the hinterland.

    Comment by BC — June 2, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

  5. 3. Li, try these. Some of these links may be a bit dated, but the orders of magnitude and trends are similar for both parties and all recent administrations. Poverty is not one of the hallmarks of top appointees or elected officials.

    I think you’ll get Bill’s drift after seeing these, or reading anything recent by Robert Reich of UC Berkeley:

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 2, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

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