Greg San Martin 
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Re: “UC Berkeley Report: Affordable Housing is Best Way to Combat Gentrifcation

Here is an excerpt from "A Roadmap Toward Equity: Housing Solutions for Oakland, California" published last year, by PolicyLink.

> From 2007 to 2014, Oakland produced only 0.7 percent of its moderate-income housing production goals under the RHNA or 22 units compared to a goal of 3,142 units.

Similar failures are seen widely throughout the Bay Area. Is it fair to say that the concept of filtering is invalid when so little moderate income housing was built? If thousands more moderate income units had been built, as was advised by all the experts, would the same conclusion about the validity of filtering still result? What if hundreds of thousands of moderate income units were built instead of thousands? Perhaps concluding that it would take generations for filtering benefits to trickle down is a conclusion that depends largely on the balance between what is needed versus what is built? I think filtering benefits would be trickle dramatically rapid. For filtering to have an effect, we have to balance the creation of new units to the demand.

I too support more public funding for low and very low income housing, because IF that housing is built in accordance with well designed policy, THEN I believe the benefits will be worth the cost. But using the same logic as was used in report conclusion, I am sure that some of the commenters above would conclude in ten years (after less than 1% of what was needed was actually built) that public funding of affordable housing is a fundamentally invalid solution. However, the failure would be for the same reason - not nearly enough housing was built.

The inability of state and local policymakers to recognize the obvious potential benefit of targeting public funding towards the construction of affordable ADU housing astounds me. Using emerging ADUs should be a vehicle for creating affordable housing (not 10% or 20% but 100% of new units). The creation of a large network of affordable ADU housing units would destigmatize the visual that most people think of when the term, low income housing, is used. Providing subsidies to existing parcel owners (along with the dreaded deed restrictions) to build those units would also justify collecting parcel taxes to fund such housing.

The system we have in place now allows 10 story tall monoliths to be built in a few places around town at densities of hundreds of people per acre and immediately adjacent to neighborhoods with densities of as little as a few people per acre. If it quacks like a duck . . . . At the same time, the developers, most of whom are multi-millionaires or part of a multinational corporations are sucking millions of tax dollars out of the local economy to be spent in far away places. If the trickle down effect of filtering fails for any reason it is most likely because some fat cat in Chicago or somewhere else pocketed our tax dollars and built units for $500,000 that should have cost us $100,000 or less. When an ADU is subsidized, the public is not asked to pay for purchase of the land. If anything is invalid (or insane), it is the current model used to incentivize home building. So whether it is moderate income housing or another form of low income housing that needs to be built, the current model seems to ensure failure and then a lot of finger pointing.

As a parcel owner, I would support more parcel taxes for publicly funded affordable ADU housing but only after overhauling current state and local laws and policies, which are rigged to make out-of-town/state/country millionaires and billionaires even richer. Instead, we need to make local taxpayers (owner occupied parcel owners who step forward to build 100% affordable housing) the primary recipients of affordable housing subsidies and also the primary future providers of affordable housing. This keeps the money in the local economy. For many of the same reasons it makes sense to distribute the generation of electricity, it makes sense to distribute the incentives for affordable housing building and the affordable housing units. If that takes a revolution, then consider this to be the first shot fired.

Posted by Greg San Martin on 09/01/2016 at 3:30 PM

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