Hi Aubrey, Starchild, and All,
Best postcard we ever had, I think (except maybe for the Margaret Sanger-type reason for No on B). Hope you guys can get it out ASAP.
Regarding the wording of Proposition K, here are some points I am suggesting we consider, not only regarding Prop K, but regarding our general view of the housing situation:
1. The City is dealing with two distinct scenarios.
Scenario #1 is what the current wording on K on the website tried to convey: We are not creating "affordable" housing, we are creating "subsidized" housing. Such generous subsidies, now extended to the middle class with the advent of last year's Prop K and this year's Props A and K, will attract a continual stream of newcomers. The website wording leaves out what a more extensive article on the subject would contain: A "supply/demand" balance can be achieved under such scenario -- when the value of housing in the City starts declining due to the negative effects of taxes supporting the subsidies, crowding, stretched municipal services, scarcity of water, and pollution. At that point, newcomers stop coming and current residents who can afford to do so start leaving.
Scenario #2 is what Starchild's wording reflects: Housing is a commodity and therefore subject to the principles of "supply/demand." What this wording leaves out is a) supply/demand as libertarians interpret this principle is a function of the free market, and b) housing is not entirely a commodity. The City's housing is not a free market due to heavy subsidies. Housing is not entirely a commodity because of its wide variety; regular wheat, for example, is a commodity, since every grain is like every other grain. True, the City has restricted housing growth during the last few decades. But the "shortage" was non-existent, until there was a political decision to dole out tax breaks to tech companies, and at the same time dole out generous housing subsidies. So, perfect storm.
2. The "Just Build" faction of the housing movement will bring about the conclusion in Scenario #1.
I thank Dan Christman (former LPSF member) for pointing out back in June what Sonja briefly touched upon during her presentation a couple of weeks ago before the Older Women's League: One of the ultimate objectives of building until demand is satisfied is bringing about a real estate collapse -- the most effective way of having really affordable housing. I doubt that LPSF would like to promote such an outcome. But maybe we do. We never discussed it.
3. So, here is my take on Prop K recommendation: I do object to us pretending Scenario #1 does not exist, to our falling for the "affordable" language when what we really have at present is "subsidy," and to our ignoring that supply/demand as we interpret the principle applies to free markets absent in the City. I also question that it is "government" that has single-handedly imposed restrictions in growth, without input from residents of neighborhoods attempting to prevent the outcome in Scenario #1. However, I agree that saying that "there will never be enough housing to bring prices down or enough taxpayer money to fund subsidies" confuses the issue by leaving too many variables unexplained. I offer a compromise language that blends both Scenario #1 and Scenario #2. Hopefully, I am correct that LPSF is opposed to housing subsidies and not afraid to say so, especially subsidies of the magnitude inherent in Props K and A. If I am incorrect, please advise me. Here is what I suggest as a last sentence to the Prop K recommendation: "So city government must not stand in the way of housing growth as it has done for the last few decades, contributing to today's sky-high prices. As long as there are restrictions to housing supply, there will never be enough taxpayer money to fund subsidies sufficient to bridge the gap between affordable and unaffordable. Natural growth, free of the heavy subsidies inherent not only in Proposition K, but also in Proposition A, would accomplish a more realistic outcome." Marcy