Snark Infested Waters ~ Bob Edwards

Bob Edwards


A thought challenge

Posted on October 16, 2023 by Bob Edwards

Big Pharma is required to test new potions and concoctions to assure their safety and effectiveness before releasing them on an unsuspecting public. If they don’t, they could be heavily fined, get sued, and/or their executives put at a small risk of being tossed in prison with the likes of other wealthy individuals with a small risk of being tossed in prison.

Such testing usually consists of administering the new substances to small mammals, gullible volunteers, prisoners, and/or the desperately suffering with little to lose.

In that same spirit of Do No Harm, and before presenting it for the consideration of policy-making public officials, the following Thought is being tested on a select and discerning group – i.e., Readers of this newspaper residing in bucolic Sonoma Valley which, according to real estate Influencers, Conde Nast and the Visitors Bureau, is an absolutely delightful place to live.  

If you can afford it.  

Which is the genesis of this Thought:  As long as people want or need to live in Sonoma Valley, successful efforts to create Affordable Housing will (a) increase the local population and (b) perpetuate the lack of affordable housing. 

The Thought begins with the obvious: Everyone now living in the Valley can “afford it” – however painfully – or they wouldn’t be living here. Some afford it by working three jobs, living 20 to a room, skimping on food and other necessities, &/or selling inappropriate personal services.  

Nonetheless, and notwithstanding “official” definitions of Affordable Housing, they do have a roof over their heads, even if it’s the ceiling of their parents’ basement.

Good ol’ Capitalism teaches that as long as there is the same or greater amount of local housing than there are local people who need it, the cost of housing should stabilize or fall and become more “affordable.”

But is that true for our Valley? Nope. When more housing is added to our Valley’s existing stock, its eventual effect is to create housing for those who do not live here now, thus adding to the local population (and, yes, traffic).

That happens when newly-built housing is occupied by current Valley residents moving from less affordable housing to the new & more affordable housing, triggering a game of musical chairs, eventually resulting in freshly-vacated local housing being occupied by those who now live elsewhere – e.g., Vallejo, or Sparks, Nevada.  It can also happen directly, as when someone living elsewhere wins a Sonoma Valley Affordable Housing Lottery & moves to town, nosing out local bidders for new Affordable Housing.

Thus #1: New affordable housing adds to the Valley’s population as well as its housing stock. This creates increased traffic and other perceived ills – from “gentrification” to overcrowded restaurants to “destroying the character of our town!” – that inevitably accompany Growth., i.e., More People.

Thus #2: Adding Affordable Housing feeds the very ill that Affordable Housing supposedly remedies – a lack of affordable housing for the growing population. It also increases pressure to sprawl into surrounding open space and agricultural vistas that – ironically – lure people who already have housing elsewhere. Think: the proposed SDC & Hanna Center developments.

Ergo, as long as Sonoma Valley remains a desirable or necessary place to live, creating more “affordable housing” is likely to perpetuate a lack of affordable housing.  

Anyway, it’s a Thought. Other Thoughts are invited, especially from those who agree. The next Thought Challenge will be easier: Should California secede from the Union?  

OK, more wine.

One thought on “A thought challenge

  1. The idea of a local district or trust, to create and run “affordable” housing ends this loop. This idea is in the Next 100 Years plan for SDC. Too bad the business as usual plan was chosen for SDC, and will also be repeated at Hanna. It is time for local control of housing, only affordable housing is built, only local workers qualify. Stop building more homes for the wealthy, with a token bit of so called affordable housing, stop having anyone in CA who qualifies getting that token amount, and stop calling people NIMBY, if they advocate for fixing the broken model.

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