More Development Would Ruin Our Neighborhood’s Character and That Character is Systemic Racism

When I heard our town was considering legalizing (gulp) duplex apartments to allow more housing, I was devastated. I’m not against people having homes, but building more housing here would ruin the beautiful character of this neighborhood, which is mostly systematic racism, but it’s also not admitting it’s systematic racism….

This neighborhood was built on certain principles, and it’s extremely important to maintain those principles and also not say them out loud where they could be used in court.

These arguments could be direct quotes from most community meetings.

— August 28, 2021

The State Birds are Garbage

Jam2go breaks down why most state birds are garbage.

— August 28, 2021
Sunset near Morro Bay, California, July 2021
— August 3, 2021

The Porch Pirate of Potrero Hill Can’t Believe It Came to This

This is a deeply reported story about one individual package thief in Potrero Hill, my old neighborhood, and the neighbors who went all out to stop her. The conflict escalates as her life spirals out of control, affecting her young daughter.

— July 15, 2021
Don't panic
— July 11, 2021
Palm tree and clouds
— July 10, 2021

The housing shortage makes housing discrimination much easier

Housing is already a discriminatory industry, through the historical legacy of redlining and racial covenants, mortgage loan discrimination, lower assessments for black home owners, realtors steering clients away from certain areas, and freeways destroying minority neighborhoods. However, the housing shortage makes the problem worse:

In a healthy, nondiscriminatory housing market, buyers will compete for homes by raising their bids. American housing markets are neither healthy nor nondiscriminatory, and with supply at historic lows, sellers have increasing power to legally and illegally discriminate among buyers.

A property could get multiple offers well over asking price, which means that (while it’s obviously most relevant) the amount of money is not the only metric that sellers use to choose an offer. In addition to offering high prices, buyers have turned to a bevy of creative methods to distinguish themselves from their competitors — all-cash offers, waiving inspections and other important contingencies, and writing personal cover letters.

It’s this last strategy that raises flags for anyone familiar with fair housing law. Personal cover letters ask the buyer to sell themselves, their family, as a product for the seller to consider.

Hobart, a lawyer who lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh, told Vox this is what happened when he and his wife were looking for a home last summer: “I emphasized that we would be good neighbors and be committed to the community … trying to have some way of standing out by saying that we’re nice, normal people.”

This reminds me of the personal letters prospective adoptive parents write to birth mothers in order to convince them to pick their family for adoption. In that case, the decision is over a human being; housing ought to be abundant enough to be treated like a commodity. Unfortunately, it’s not.

— July 9, 2021
Voyager probe against the backdrop of stars

I love this JPL poster commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Voyager launch.

— July 8, 2021

Improving access to transit with improved street design

This is a great visualization of why walkability matters for transit.

— July 8, 2021

The Whiners Who Earn $200,000 and Complain They’re Broke

This is an interesting analysis of that most hateful genre of article (challenged only by how I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and a loan from my parents) about rich people who are barely scraping by. The people in these articles are invariably maxing out their 401(k) contributions, building equity with their home mortgage, and taking vacations, so it is a bit laughable to consider them living paycheck to paycheck. “After spending all my money on things I want, I don’t have any left!”

But as the great financial planner Charles Dickens once wrote, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” That applies whether your annual income is $20,000, $200,000, or $2,000,000.

— July 7, 2021