By Stuart Soffer
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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi... (More)
About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildings. This could have been a career option, but my interest in computers - unusual at the time - led me to the computer science program at the University of Wisconsin. A programming job on Page Mill Road brought me to Palo Alto after college. Since 1993 I consult on bridging law and technology, and serve as an expert witness in Intellectual Property litigation. We moved to Menlo Park's Linfield Oaks neighborhood in 1994. Neighborhood traffic issues motivated my initial volunteering as a Menlo Park Planning Commissioner, followed by a stint as a Chamber of Commerce board member and most recently a finance/audit committee member. I advocate community volunteering for meeting people, the neighborhoods, and understanding the myriad issues that somehow arise. As hobbies I collect contemporary art and vintage cameras. And? fly helicopters, which offer rare views of the nooks and crannies of the Bay Area. (Hide)
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This morning's New York Times has a good article ("Affordable Housing That's Very Costly
") on efforts in NYC to increase affordable housing (whatever that means). A market rate 2-bedroom apartment is going for almost $8700/ month.
None of what is explained is new to New York. Indeed, the long existing "rent-control" programs began after WW2 to reward returning servicemen/women and help get them onto better economic footing after having been separated from their families for some years. Indeed, I grew up in rent-controlled housing (as most everyone that I knew at the time). Rent-controlled housing is basically middle class housing.
I'll point out that there is another housing model in NYC, the coop. A coop building is owned by a corporation. Instead of buying a condo, people buy shares in a coop for a unit. It's an interesting creature: one must apply, interview and be approved by the coop board ? your neighbors - to get your apartment.
The article makes the point that I recognized in Menlo Park ? that mandating low incoming housing increases the costs for everyone else, exacerbating the entry cost for others. It seems they have the erroneous assumption that getting what we call a 'below market rate' fee of developers, and then accumulating that for the city to spend on housing, never gets the amount of housing that could be consumed.