Jake's blog

Let's talk about how to build cheap market-rate apartments.

Let's talk about how to build cheap market-rate apartments.

I talk a lot about the apartment I used to live in in Sacramento, because it really was a great place to live as a baby lawyer making $56,000 a year at the attorney general's office. The building was seven one-bedroom apartments with a patio in the back. No garage, no gym, no elevator, nothing super-luxe, but it was cheap, adequate housing.   This kind of cheap, no-frills apartment is called a "dingbat." It originated in Los Angeles, and has been called "apartment building architecture at its worst." So, let's talk about how these kinds of cheap, adequate buildings used...

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Let's talk about why Beverly Hills will have to build affordable housing.

Let's talk about why Beverly Hills will have to build affordable housing.

Like I've written at length here, ground zero for the housing crisis isn't the homeless tent cities of Downtown Los Angeles, or immigrants crammed six-to-a-room in East Oakland.  No, it's actually in the leafy, picture-perfect neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Palo Alto.  None of these places has built a goddamn thing in fifty years - so the corporate lawyers of the world go and gentrify the hell out of poor, minority neighborhoods.  And if you get forced out of, say, Echo Park, Los Angeles by someone like me, your options are to go to San Bernardino, Las Vegas, or if...

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Let's talk about why California has too many empty shopping malls and too few houses.

Let's talk about why California has too many empty shopping malls and too few houses.

Now, I'll talk about why California ended up with way too many empty malls and way too few houses. But to do this, I have to focus in on a really arcane detail of how state and local government is financed. Just as background, state and local governments traditionally rely on three types of taxes to stay solvent: sales tax, property tax and income tax. There's some variation based on how many services each government provides, but in general there's no free lunch. (This is why Texas, for example, has such high property and sales taxes - to compensate for...

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New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area should all be more like Sacramento.

New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area should all be more like Sacramento.

Got your attention, didn't I? Great. Because when it comes to the housing shortage, and if you want an example of what to do, New York, LA and the Bay Area should follow Sacramento's example. Yes, Sacramento, the cowtown mid-sized city that hosts the state government. There's three major reforms that Sacramento's doing right now, which other cities would be wise to emulate. they're rezoning the whole city at once for more housing. they're giving automatic approval for new apartments that meet the underlying zoning law. they abolished the minimum parking law. I'll discuss each of the three in turn....

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Let's talk about the coronavirus's effect on the housing crisis.

Let's talk about the coronavirus's effect on the housing crisis.

I've avoided specifically talking about the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on the housing question for a while, because I've never quite had a handle on the way that things would eventually shake out. But now, you can start to see the outlines of how the future of work, and the future of housing, are going to be going forward. BOTTOM LINE, UP FRONT: Coronavirus has unintentionally opened up a safety valve for the housing crisis, because it makes a lot of semi-remote work possible, and it extends the big-city commuter belts further out than was previously practical. The single...

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