The California housing crisis and the fight for 20 townhouses


Livable California is now the most recognized brand among a class of New groups protest state housing moves. The groups do things like organize neighborhood associations and produce research that describes the idea of ​​scarcity as exaggerated. (This accusation contradicts the volumes of research on the subject, the status is low construction rate per capitaand its glut of illegal, overcrowded housing.)

Many of the most active members come from wealthy enclaves like Marin, but the struggle to maintain local control over housing attracts a more diverse group than the stereotype of a wealthy suburban NIMBY suggests. In California and across the country, activists fighting gentrification in cities often team up with development-worried suburban landlords to oppose sweeping zoning reforms. Even if these groups disagree on housing policy, they often favor making these decisions at the city or neighborhood level, where the political sphere is small enough that a group of volunteers can still be effective.

“Community activists are organizing in person,” said Isaiah Madison, 26 and black, a resident of the historically black neighborhood of Leimert Park in Los Angeles — and a board member of Livable California. “But when you present it to the state, you’re just a number. There are so many problems, and so much bureaucracy, politics and money, that the community is lost.

In several interviews, several of the more active owners expressed a sense of upper-middle-class regression. It seems unfair to them that people who did exactly what society told them to do – buy a house, get involved in their neighborhood – are now being asked to accept big changes in their environment.

More than anything, they’re furious at how an epithet like “NIMBY” can reduce someone who cares about their neighborhood to a cartoon. Yes, they are the ones who fight development. They are also the people who manufacture and distribute lawn signs. Who attend nightly town meetings to ask probing questions about bids for the town’s dog-catching contract. Who throw the block party and help start library programs that everyone takes for granted.

“The state is crazy trying to make all these towns its enemy,” said Maria Pavlou Kalban, who serves on the board of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and recently founded a homeowners and neighborhood group at the statewide called United Neighbors. “These are people who are really serious about trying to answer the question, ‘Where do our children live?'”

However, when the conversation turns to solutions, the conundrum of local control resurfaces. In an interview, Ms. Kalban outlined a plan to build higher-density housing on high-traffic corridors, which seems perfectly reasonable. It also resembles the townhouses Mr Richardson has been trying to build since 2004.

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