Good transportation alternatives weren't the only
victims of sprawl development. Housing affordable to all is another.
And both the lack of choices in transportation and in housing
primarily impacts the people in the bottom half of the income
There are plenty of reasons why we have an affordability
problem, and a number of potential solutions. One of the solutions
is inclusionary housing required by housing ordinances -- mandates
that a specified percentage of housing in new developments be
priced below a given level. Naturally, this approach is commonly
resisted by developers. A letter
written by SCTLC member Rick Theis challenges the developer arguments
and explains the central role played by the price of land.
Some insights on the land price issue can be obtained
from the maps below.
the maps for larger scale
In these maps the number of years of median family
income required to buy a median price home (a basic measure of
affordability) is shown by colors ranging from dark green (most
affordable) to deep orange (least affordable. The contrast between
the map of the U.S. and the map of Sonoma County shows that Sonoma
County is atypical, in having far worse affordability than the
nation as a whole.
Another insight that pops out, especially from the
US map, is that affordability is a pretty strict result of the
attractiveness of an area to live in. Not too surprising to anyone
with a rudimentary understanding of economics.
Does this mean that making a community more attractive
is pre-empting the possibility of affordability for all?