Politics and housing prices

High housing prices make people blue. Not just the young first—time home—buyers stunned at what a starter house or condo costs, or the families scrimping to pay an oversized variable—interest mortgage. There is very substantial statistical evidence and logic supporting the notion that sustained high housing prices lead to liberal dominance of local politics. The key, as discovered by Steve Sailer, is the effect of high real estate prices discouraging family formation and child—rearing. Married people with children are heavily skewed toward the GOP, while single childless adults, particularly females, tend to support Democrats.

So the two political parties have very different interests in housing prices. Democrats, who generally support land use restrictions (usually for ostensibly environmental concerns), benefit when the supply of affordable housing is constrained, and localities are dominated by non—family living arrangements. Republicans, supposedly in thrall to ruthless developers (one of the media's favorite villain figures), benefit when buildable land is abundant and regulations on building new housing minimal. The resultant expanding supply of housing makes it possible for couples to afford to bear and raise children, and eventually become Republicans.

Thus, San Francisco, New York and Boston, with notorious housing prices, are colored blue on TV network electoral maps. And Phoenix, Dallas, Orlando, and other strongholds of comparatively low housing prices tend to be colored red on the same maps.

But there is another level at which housing prices and political coloration are linked. The San Francisco Chronicle's star investigative reporters Phil Matier and Andrew Ross have uncovered  a textbook example of the (apparently) perfectly legal ways in which housing prices are pushed up, and some of the extra money flows directly into the building and maintenance of a 'progressive' political machine.

One of the 'hot' new neighborhoods in San Francisco is called SoMa, for 'South of Market Street' downtown. The neighborhood once housed pawnshops, single room occupancy residential hotels, the wholesale produce market, and various waterfront businesses such as the Folger's Coffee Company. But sustained housing shortages, the construction of SBC Stadium for the Giants baseball team, and the idleness of the old waterfront facilities now that containerships (which dock across the Bay in Oakland ) have replaced break cargo shipping, have made SoMa a place where lots of people want to build high rise apartment towers. Bay views, walk to work, access to mass transit, and other benefits of the neighborhood are widely appreciated.

Motorists driving into San Francisco via the Bay Bridge are increasingly seeing a forest of skyscrapers tight next to the skyway, which cuts through SoMa. Increasingly, San Francisco's downtown is coming to resemble Manhattan, which features similar vistas from several bridges. High rise living and working all packed together in a growing landscape of urban intensity.

Matier & Ross demonstrate how radical left wing Supervisor Chris Daly managed to score over $100 million, by adding 'impact fees' and other such imposed costs on new housing, and direct a chunk of it to feeding his own political machine:

In exchange for agreeing not to block a half—dozen giant condo towers from going up at the foot of the Bay Bridge and elsewhere in SoMa's Rincon Hill, Daly not only got developers to kick in as much as $68 million to build affordable housing —— half of which will go up in Daly's district —— he got them (with the help of his board colleagues) to kick in an additional $34 million for a special nonprofit community fund for his district.

The fund is to be overseen by a seven—member advisory board appointed by Daly and his fellow supervisors.

And just to make sure that the right people get on the board, the deal requires that the group include one member who provides direct services to South of Market families, one member from a community—based organization, one member with affordable housing expertise and familiarity with the SoMa neighborhood, one senior or disabled resident, one member representing poor families and one who has expertise in employment development.

In other words, pretty much a line up of activists from Daly's political base.

The 'affordable housing' racket often amounts to a lottery (at best) awarding below—market price housing to certain favored individuals. The rest of the buyers (or renters) pay the price for the others' subsidies. The temptation to make such lotteries more than merely random in their selection of the favored few is, of course, substantial enough to make such programs an attractive nuisance: bait for misbehavior.

The Daly Case demonstrates how so—called progressives benefit from the suffering of their constituents. Force people to pay extra money for a condo, grab some of it for your political flunkies, and make certain that few pesky children (and their GOP—leaning parents) will live in your district. Meanwhile, decry the housing crisis you have helped create and demand even more programs to single out your supporters for special benefits.

It works for liberals, but not for America.

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

High housing prices make people blue. Not just the young first—time home—buyers stunned at what a starter house or condo costs, or the families scrimping to pay an oversized variable—interest mortgage. There is very substantial statistical evidence and logic supporting the notion that sustained high housing prices lead to liberal dominance of local politics. The key, as discovered by Steve Sailer, is the effect of high real estate prices discouraging family formation and child—rearing. Married people with children are heavily skewed toward the GOP, while single childless adults, particularly females, tend to support Democrats.

So the two political parties have very different interests in housing prices. Democrats, who generally support land use restrictions (usually for ostensibly environmental concerns), benefit when the supply of affordable housing is constrained, and localities are dominated by non—family living arrangements. Republicans, supposedly in thrall to ruthless developers (one of the media's favorite villain figures), benefit when buildable land is abundant and regulations on building new housing minimal. The resultant expanding supply of housing makes it possible for couples to afford to bear and raise children, and eventually become Republicans.

Thus, San Francisco, New York and Boston, with notorious housing prices, are colored blue on TV network electoral maps. And Phoenix, Dallas, Orlando, and other strongholds of comparatively low housing prices tend to be colored red on the same maps.

But there is another level at which housing prices and political coloration are linked. The San Francisco Chronicle's star investigative reporters Phil Matier and Andrew Ross have uncovered  a textbook example of the (apparently) perfectly legal ways in which housing prices are pushed up, and some of the extra money flows directly into the building and maintenance of a 'progressive' political machine.

One of the 'hot' new neighborhoods in San Francisco is called SoMa, for 'South of Market Street' downtown. The neighborhood once housed pawnshops, single room occupancy residential hotels, the wholesale produce market, and various waterfront businesses such as the Folger's Coffee Company. But sustained housing shortages, the construction of SBC Stadium for the Giants baseball team, and the idleness of the old waterfront facilities now that containerships (which dock across the Bay in Oakland ) have replaced break cargo shipping, have made SoMa a place where lots of people want to build high rise apartment towers. Bay views, walk to work, access to mass transit, and other benefits of the neighborhood are widely appreciated.

Motorists driving into San Francisco via the Bay Bridge are increasingly seeing a forest of skyscrapers tight next to the skyway, which cuts through SoMa. Increasingly, San Francisco's downtown is coming to resemble Manhattan, which features similar vistas from several bridges. High rise living and working all packed together in a growing landscape of urban intensity.

Matier & Ross demonstrate how radical left wing Supervisor Chris Daly managed to score over $100 million, by adding 'impact fees' and other such imposed costs on new housing, and direct a chunk of it to feeding his own political machine:

In exchange for agreeing not to block a half—dozen giant condo towers from going up at the foot of the Bay Bridge and elsewhere in SoMa's Rincon Hill, Daly not only got developers to kick in as much as $68 million to build affordable housing —— half of which will go up in Daly's district —— he got them (with the help of his board colleagues) to kick in an additional $34 million for a special nonprofit community fund for his district.

The fund is to be overseen by a seven—member advisory board appointed by Daly and his fellow supervisors.

And just to make sure that the right people get on the board, the deal requires that the group include one member who provides direct services to South of Market families, one member from a community—based organization, one member with affordable housing expertise and familiarity with the SoMa neighborhood, one senior or disabled resident, one member representing poor families and one who has expertise in employment development.

In other words, pretty much a line up of activists from Daly's political base.

The 'affordable housing' racket often amounts to a lottery (at best) awarding below—market price housing to certain favored individuals. The rest of the buyers (or renters) pay the price for the others' subsidies. The temptation to make such lotteries more than merely random in their selection of the favored few is, of course, substantial enough to make such programs an attractive nuisance: bait for misbehavior.

The Daly Case demonstrates how so—called progressives benefit from the suffering of their constituents. Force people to pay extra money for a condo, grab some of it for your political flunkies, and make certain that few pesky children (and their GOP—leaning parents) will live in your district. Meanwhile, decry the housing crisis you have helped create and demand even more programs to single out your supporters for special benefits.

It works for liberals, but not for America.

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.