How We Keep People Out

Back when I covered land use issues I heard this kind of thing all the time: 

In this second case, out of Arizona, the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s finding. In the reversal, the federal court held that local zoning rules could be struck down if they unfairly block housing access for minorities. In this case, the city of Yuma had rejiggered its zoning map after it saw a proposal by a real estate developer to build “moderately priced” units on a parcel next to a mainly white, mainly single-family home area.

Uproar over the proposal raised familiar objections, according to the decision. Previous construction by the same developer “tended to have large households, use single-family homes as multi-family dwellings, allow unattended children to roam the streets, own numerous vehicles which they parked in the streets and in their yards, lack pride of ownership, and fail to maintain their residences,” argued a resident of a nearby property.

Another wrote: “These homes… turned into multifamily dwellings, which in turn led to more unattended juveniles and crime.”

Moderately priced housing! The horror! People raising their children in APARTMENTS! Unattended juveniles! (They can’t possibly mean groups of black kids, right? My neighborhood has tons of unattended juveniles everywhere, usually walking to or from Little League practice. It’s awful. Sometimes they litter.)

I read the linked story above just after reviewing yet another set of newspaper comments to the effect that if poor city people wanted better schools they’d have moved to the suburbs, which obviously they can’t if there are no houses cheaper than 500K and apartments are looked at as drug dens. How are you supposed to get those great schools for your kids if you aren’t a couple of neurosurgeons with family money behind you?

We make these things impossible and then blame people for not accomplishing them.