Unclear on the Concept: Densify = Gentrify

While I agree that Plan Bay Area is an insidious, brutal steamroller of a lefty power grab worthy of Robert Moses in his prime, and elsewhere in the country it might indeed mean that Cabrini Green is coming to your neighborhood, I’m afraid here in the Bay Area the affordable-housing-obsessed have all too much faith in the power of the word to affect market-based reality.

Viz.: here in the Bay Area, “affordable,” that is, below-market-rate (BMR) housing is already defined as housing for which you qualify for a government subsidy. Wanna see our subsidized prices? Here you go.

The reality is that despite people fleeing California as a whole due to the poor jobs market, they’re still flocking to the Bay Area. Population pressure pushes housing prices up far beyond government’s ability to mess with the market, and that pressure will continue for decades to come. Unintended Consequence: by cutting off any new suburbs, Plan Bay Area will just exacerbate and accelerate that price-increase process. Unintended Consequence: by forcing development into transit hubs, Plan Bay Area will wipe out the cheapest housing we have now.

What does this mean? It means that crack houses and decaying buildings that are too expensive to redevelop now will suddenly become viable candidates for redevelopment. With nowhere else to build, all that population-induced development pressure’s gonna get channeled into tear-down-and-rebuild infill, which means in a very short period of time all the older, crappier housing near the train tracks will get leveled and replaced with really nice, expensive condos that. even with a government subsidy, are not  affordable by any stretch of the imagination. Oops.


So in reality, Plan Bay Area’s mandate that future new or infill development must be superdense, urbanist Le Corbusier fever dreams built around existing transit hubs will not mean that Bay Area housing actually becomes more affordable for the 99%. It will not mean increased crime and social ills. Rather, it will inevitably mean government-sponsored upscale gentrification.

From houses like this:

to developments like this:


I don’t like Plan Bay Area for a whole host of reasons, but I will find some satisfaction seeing the half-million-dollar crack houses all along the BART tracks replaced in short order with brand new multi-million-dollar condo complexes, and the hipsters wondering what happened and whining about how they still can’t afford to live there.

Hey, it was all in the plan, babe. Dunno why it didn’t work for you.


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One Response to Unclear on the Concept: Densify = Gentrify

  1. NotClauswitz says:

    I think that’s the plan all along, gentrification, so in the end they will have gentrified crack-houses too, called Obamacare Offices – they dispense with the free-lance sellers, or hire them to do the Gov. sales. It’s Chicagoesque!

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