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Open Forum: Bring back the ‘missing middle’ housing - SFChronicle.com
"Tucked into neighborhoods throughout Oakland, Berkeley and many other Bay Area cities are small, beautiful duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes. These multifamily residences tend to be more affordable than single-family homes and were a major housing type in U.S. urban areas before World War II. But since the 1960s and ’70s, this type of essential housing has become illegal in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area and nation because it exceeds the density allowed. That’s why it’s now called “missing middle” housing. It’s time we brought it back.

Late this month, the Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal to study the return of the missing middle — specifically, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes — in most areas of the city, except for the fire-prone hills. Councilmembers Lori Droste, Ben Bartlett, Rashi Kesarwani and Rigel Robinson patterned their plan on a groundbreaking law that passed last fall in Minneapolis. In a historic vote, the Minneapolis City Council decided to become the first in the nation to once again allow for new duplexes and triplexes in single-family-home neighborhoods.

In a letter of support for the Berkeley plan, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said it could serve as a model for her city and others. Indeed, it could be a model for all of California.

It would also help right a historic wrong. During the first part of the 20th century, some white, wealthy neighborhoods in Berkeley attached racial covenants to housing deeds — covenants that banned people of color from living there. Then, after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial covenants in 1916 in Buchanan vs. Warley, Berkeley, regrettably, became a national leader of so-called “exclusionary zoning” laws. These laws worked much like racial covenants: They banned apartment buildings in many neighborhoods under the racist reasoning that people of color wouldn’t be able to live in those neighborhoods because they couldn’t afford to buy single-family homes.

In the following decades, “redlining” (a discriminatory practice of refusing to loan or insure in certain neighborhoods) and disinvestment deepened the racial divide in housing, as Richard Rothstein noted in his acclaimed 2017 book, “The Color of Law.” Cities and counties made matters worse in the ’60s and ’70s when they expanded exclusionary zoning, prohibiting missing middle housing in most neighborhoods.

Berkeley deserves credit for green-lighting new multi-unit housing downtown and on some major transit corridors during the past decade. But large swaths of the city are still limited by exclusive R-1 zoning, which only allows for single-family homes. In fact, homeowners in much of the city not only can’t add another home to a large lot but are blocked from subdividing their existing large house into two, three or four units.

Berkeley, of course, is not alone in its embrace of exclusionary zoning. Issi Romem, chief economist for Trulia, estimates that single-family-home neighborhoods represent nearly half of the land mass of the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The consequences of banning the missing middle have also been devastating for low-, moderate- and middle-income families. The median sales price of a home in Berkeley soared 65 percent in five years, from 2013 to 2018, reaching $1.2 million this past December, according to Zillow. And Berkeley rent prices skyrocketed 54 percent during the same period. In the Bay Area, a family currently needs to earn $200,000 a year to afford a median-priced home.

In short, we have a housing emergency. California now ranks 49th in the nation in terms of the number of housing units per capita. It’s no wonder that our homelessness crisis continues to expand.

It’s also an environmental crisis. During the past several decades, suburban sprawl, coupled with little to no new housing in our cities, has fueled gas-guzzling super-commutes. According to a 2018 report by researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the single most important way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint by 2030 — which scientists say is the deadline for avoiding catastrophic climate change — is to build urban infill housing.

We need an “all-of-the-above” approach to address our housing crisis, including Berkeley’s missing middle plan. I’m also heartened that the Berkeley City Council members’ proposal includes important elements to avoid unintended consequences.

For example, it would exempt dangerous fire zones in the Berkeley hills. California’s devastating wildfires during the past few years have proven we must curb new home-building in what’s known as the wildland-urban interface.

The Berkeley missing middle plan also calls for anti-displacement measures to ensure that tenants and low-income residents aren’t kicked out of their homes to make way for new housing.

As Karen Chapple, faculty director of the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley, rightly noted in a letter in support of the missing middle plan, “Zoning reform has the potential not just to address the housing crisis but also to become a form of restorative or even transformative justice. There is no more important issue for planners to tackle today.”

I look forward to the Berkeley City Council approving the missing middle study at its meeting on March 26. And I encourage all Bay Area cities to follow suit."
housing  california  2019  density  apartments  history  race  racism  sanfrancisco  berkeley  oakland  infilling 
11 days ago by robertogreco
Metro Vancouver residential land prices may have already peaked | Vancouver Courier
Still, developers were paying eye-popping prices for high-density residential land in the second half of last year. The record price could be the $164.7 million that British-based Harlow Holdings Ltd. paid for just under an acre of land (43,255 square feet) in downtown Vancouver. A few blocks away, Vancouver’s Skyllen Pacific Development paid $58.7 million for a 30,226-square-foot Pendrell Street site zoned for a floor space ratio (FSR) of 2.75 (which means that more than 83,000 square feet of residences could be developed). 

On Vancouver’s tony west side, land zoned for high-density housing easily topped $40 million an acre last year. Colliers reported that, based on land values, the average cost for every buildable square foot for a residential development on Vancouver’s west side is now from $450 to $550 per square foot. That cost is just for the land and excludes construction costs and all soft costs, such as taxes, legal costs, development fees, marketing, financing and any developer profit.

Vancouver has by far the highest combined per-buildable-square foot costs and construction prices in Canada, according to Altus Group’s 2019 Construction Cost Guide. Altus estimates that Vancouver now requires an end-sale price a third higher than in second-place Toronto.

It  is not uncommon for new concrete condos in Vancouver to top $1,400 per square foot, and the average is $1,345 per square foot.

Suburban land values in Metro Vancouver also spiralled in 2018. In the second half of last year, Anthem Properties Corp. closed on a 1.5-acre residential site in Coquitlam near a SkyTrain station. It paid $40.5 million. Townline Homes Inc. paid $34.4 million for a high-density 51,529-square-foot parcel on North Road, Coquitlam, which pencilled to $148 per buildable square foot at an FSR of 4.5. 

Surrey provides some of the lowest-cost land for residential in the region, but it is not uncommon for high-density sites to sell for $10 million per acre or more. RDG Management Ltd. paid $30.6 million last year for 3.2-acre site in Central Surrey with an FSR of 3.5.; and a B.C. numbered company snapped up a 7.5 FSR site of nearly 1.5 acres on the King George Highway for $54 million late in 2018.
realestate  vancouver  housing  density 
11 days ago by badeconomist
Catholics Similar to Mainstream on Abortion, Stem Cells
The data show that regular churchgoing non-Catholics also have very conservative positions on moral issues. In fact, on most of the issues tested, regular churchgoers who are not Catholic are more conservative (i.e., less likely to find a given practice morally acceptable) than Catholic churchgoers.
news  org:data  poll  data  values  religion  christianity  protestant-catholic  comparison  morality  gender  sex  sexuality  time  density  theos  pro-rata  frequency  demographics  abortion-contraception-embryo  sanctity-degradation 
15 days ago by nhaliday
Opinion | The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo - The New York Times
"This is the New American Home for 2018. It’s a sprawling monstrosity of more than 10,690 feet (the lot encompasses 65,340 square feet).

The New American Home should really be this condo. There are six units. One unit here can have just 1,800 square feet."



"The first New American Home that N.A.H.B. built, in Houston in 1984, was 1,500 square feet and cost $80,000. By 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, the N.A.H.B. home – a lakeside McMansion in Florida with a tri-level kitchen island and a waterfall off the master suite – was over 10,000 square feet and listed for $5.3 million in what is today one of the nation’s foreclosure capitals, Orlando.

That 1984 project was the smallest; square footage hasn’t dipped below 2,200 since 1985. The 2018 version, also in Florida, is “Tuscan”-inspired and is close to 11,000 square feet, with eight bathrooms and both an elevator and a car elevator in the garage. The 2019 version, to be unveiled soon, is 8,000 square feet and has an “inner sanctum lounge” and a view of the Vegas strip.

The N.A.H.B. house may be meant to highlight trends, but they’re not necessarily the trends homeowners want (and certainly not what most people need). Instead, they’re what builders, kitchen and bath manufacturers and real estate agents would like to sell them: Think cathedral ceilings, granite countertops, gift-wrapping rooms and, more recently, “smart” appliances like a refrigerator that can text you when you’re low on milk and eggs.

Many builders will tell you that though these houses are large, they are more efficient – even that they have a small carbon footprint. But this is like bragging about the good gas mileage of an S.U.V. While a 10,000-square-foot house built today uses less energy than a 10,000-square-foot house built a decade ago, a home of this size requires a phenomenal amount of energy to run. (And most likely has an S.U.V. or two in the garage.)

Does anyone need 10,000 square feet to live in?

Families are getting smaller, not larger. The average American household shrank by 30 percent from 1948 and 2012, to 2.55 people from 3.67. Yet houses have ballooned as family sizes have contracted.

The average new home today is 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973. The square footage of living space per person has increased to 971, from 507 – a 92 percent increase.

What if the next New American Home was a condo? And what if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?

In the Cloverdale749 building designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects in Los Angeles, six families are housed – luxuriously – in a 10,500-square-foot building that has little else in common with the N.A.H.B. home.

No space is wasted here – it may not have multiple walk-in closets or “air-conditioned storerooms,” but it has high ceilings and roof decks.

Larger homes use more resources, typically require longer commutes, come with more expensive utility bills, and often contribute to more sedentary lifestyles (which in turn results in increased rates of conditions like obesity and heart disease).

The way the Cloverdale building is designed effectively reduces the need for (and costs of) heating and cooling, and increases natural light and circulation.

Thanks to its central location (and Los Angeles’s serious commitment to expanding public transit), it reduces the need for driving, too. Building this way has the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities. The N.A.H.B. home, in contrast, is entirely self-contained, with no regard for neighbors or neighborhood. It might as well have a moat.

This approach to housing is not only socially isolating, it’s no longer sustainable.

Our way of building homes and neighborhoods lost the plot a long time ago.

Homes like those the N.A.H.B. is promoting ignore the changing nature of families and the imminent crisis in housing for the elderly – not to mention climate change, which we have no hope of combatting without a true reimagining of the American dream. Enter the Green New Deal: If it recognized the link between building more infill housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it would be even greener. Taking a strong stand against the primacy of the single family home (and the zoning that encourages it), especially the 10,000-square-foot ones, would represent a bold move toward combating climate change."
allisonarieff  housing  us  sustainability  2019  transportation  density  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  excess  efficiency  energy  society 
20 days ago by robertogreco
659 High Density Part 2 - whitehead_the_density_debate_author.pdf
Christine Whitehead "Density is an emotive term – but what wemean by density when we start to sound offis often very different from how others areinterpreting what we are saying. This is notbecause everyone else is stupid – butbecause it is a term with many facets andeach of us brings baggage based on ourown experience – both professional andpersonal – to how we understand it.This paper aims to make transparent one economist’sviews on density. I start by clarifying different definitionsand their relationship to one another – which helps toexplain why people have such very different ways ofthinking about density.
density  housing  cities 
4 weeks ago by spencertree
Housing density: does it stack up? | Features | Building
Jane Jacobs wrote that in order for cities to work, “there must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people, for whatever purposes they may be there. Crucially, this includes a dense concentration in the case of people who are there because of residence.”
> Over the past two decades, successive UK central and local governments have belatedly agreed with this view and actively pursued policies that encourage greater residential density. Partially as a result of these, the UK stands today as the most densely populated large country in Europe. However, the country’s ongoing housing crisis means that the national policy of densification is set to intensify further with the recent announcement of two major changes to national and local planning policy.
housing  density  UK  policy  planning  cities  p33507 
4 weeks ago by spencertree
Estimated Intersection Density of Walkable Roads, EnviroAtlas Community Data Fact Sheets, July 2016 - Estimatedintersectiondensityofwalkableroads.pdf
a.Venice, Italy 1,500 intersections/sq mileb.Los Angeles, CA150 intersections/sq milec.Irvine, CA15 intersections/sq mile1
Venice 580 /sqkm
Los Angeles 58
Irvine (suburb outside LA): 5.8
junction  intersection  density 
4 weeks ago by spencertree
Design Manual Pamphlet_30 Nov 2011.indd - China Design Manual Pamphlet_0.pdf
The principles introduced here represent what some of the world’s leading experts believe to be best pracƟ ces in urban design. CiƟ es are gradually adoping these measures, but those that have embraced them are the most livable and economically secure ciƟ es in the world. These principles support each other. Blocks with mixed uses encourage walking, and walkable cities create customers for local businesses. Smaller block sizes encourage bike and pedestrian use, which cuts down on traffic, allowing public transit and automobile traffic to run beƩ er—and so on. Enacting all eight principles is the key to a sustainable, livable city.
> High density is crucial to low-carbon cities, but density alone is not enough. In order to avoid congestion, housing must be located close to public transit and jobs. Density also needs to be related to the capacity of all modes of transportation. If roads are designed as suggested in this guide - with bike and pedestrian-friendly corridors, transit priority lanes on major arterials, and one-way arterial couplets - activities can be concentrated to make walking, cycling, and mass transit more convenient than driving.
low-carbon-city  china  Calthorpe  transport  p33507  density 
4 weeks ago by spencertree
Journal of Urological Surgery
Efficacy of Low Density Linear Shockwave Treatment in Severe Arteriogenic Erectile Dysfunction Patients
JUS  Efficacy  of  Low  Density  Linear  Shockwave  Treatment  in  Severe  Arteriogenic  ED 
6 weeks ago by kilroy2

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