Neighborhoods That Grow Up, Not Out

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Monday, December 4, 2017 »

Neighborhoods That Grow Up, Not Out


The property at 1310 Haskell Street in Berkeley, Calif., has been the focus of a protracted fight over denser development. Neighbors fought the plan for three houses on the site but lost. Andrew Burton for The New York Times

Good morning.
Today’s introduction comes from Conor Dougherty, who reports on economics from the Bay Area.
If California is going to solve its affordable housing problem, cities have to build up in single-family home neighborhoods. That was the conclusion of the economists I interviewed for my recent story on Berkeley.

The story raises a big, difficult question that sits at the heart of California’s efforts to simultaneously combat poverty and climate change: Is it possible to build a dense city that is also affordable?
California has a growing economy and the nation’s most expensive housing market. Worried about escalating rents and home prices, many people have pointed to the economy, in particular the technology industry, as a scapegoat.
But growth and affordability are not mutually exclusive. Houston is one of the nation’s biggest and fastest growing regions, as well as one of its most affordable. The difference between Houston and the Bay Area, of course, is that Houston continues to sprawl outward — as do Atlanta, Phoenix and every other growing, affordable city.
In a recent study, Issi Romem, chief economist at BuildZoom, a San Francisco company that helps people find contractors, looked at the growth of American cities over the past several decades, and found that cities that add a lot of housing do so by expanding outward, building suburbs and exurbs that are almost exclusively covered by single-family homes. Once cities stop spreading out, their rate of new housing production slows — and prices shoot upward.
As the population grows, Mr. Romem said, there are three choices for how to accommodate more people. One is the Houston method: Keep growing outward. The second is the Bay Area method: Slow down sprawl while leaving existing neighborhoods alone, raising prices and pushing lower-earning households out of state. (In other words, slow growth by forcing people to move to Houston.)
The third is what no U.S. city has yet accomplished: Grow upward and in place. This route is certainly possible, but, as my story on Berkeley shows, it requires a wholesale rethinking of how cities look. And those are brutal politics.
California Online
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
• Dianne Feinstein says she is “beginning to see” a case for obstruction of justice against President Trump. [San Francisco Chronicle]

The Kennedy Center Honors recipients, from left, during a gala on Sunday: Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J and Lionel Richie.
Scott Suchman
• Rita Moreno at the Kennedy Center Honors: “Some of us have rattled the chains for issues of justice.” [The New York Times]

• Fallout from the Republican tax bill: Chances are, many state residents will see higher tax bills in years to come. [San Francisco Chronicle]

• Could California be seeing the onset of a recession? [Calmatters]

• Last year 29 percent of California tenants put more than half their income — before any deductions — toward rent and utilities. [Los Angeles Times]

Brock Turner leaving the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose, Calif., in September 2016.
Stephen Lam/Reuters
• The former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner has appealed his sexual assault conviction, saying the encounter was consensual but admitting to “imposing trauma and pain” on the victim. [The New York Times]

• Will the pit-bull tactics of Martin Singer, Hollywood’s favorite legal hit man, still work in the post-Weinstein era? [Los Angeles Times]

Students at Design Tech High School after a day of coding and digital design courses offered during a school intersession on the Oracle campus in Redwood Shores, Calif. The students will soon move into a high school on the campus.222
Laura Morton for The New York Times
• Putting a publicly funded charter school on the campus of a tech giant is a new twist on the evolving relationship between big tech companies and schools. [The New York Times]

• The wine country fires that burned through the upper Sonoma Valley in October transfigured multimillion-dollar views that inspired writers like Jack London and Michael Ondaatje and made it one of the region’s most prized destinations. [The Press Democrat]

• San Francisco could become the first city in the nation to open a public bank, partly because it would assist in processing cannabis transactions that most commercial banks don’t want to touch. [San Francisco Examiner]

• In Jimmy Garoppolo’s debut, the 49ers won a last-minute 15-14 victory over Chicago, raising hopes of a turnaround of the dismal season. [Mercury News / Sacramento Bee]

• At Disneyland hundreds wait in line, then another line, to buy a $12.99 candy cane — here’s why. [Daily Breeze]

Coming Up This Week
• A year after the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, a preliminary hearing opens Monday in the trial of two tenants, Derick Almena and Max Harris. A judge at the Alameda County Superior Court will decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with the case.
• King tides will peak Monday and Tuesday, causing flood warnings for coastal regions.
• The high-flying Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles will meet on Sunday at the Coliseum, a battle between QBs Jared Goff, No. 1 in the 2016 draft, and Carson Wentz, No. 2 in the same draft.
And Finally …
What began 14 years ago as a small and underground cannabis judging competition has morphed into a Woodstock of Weed attended by tens of thousands of marijuana growers and enthusiasts. The Emerald Cup runs this Saturday and Sunday at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
The cannabis is judged by its color, smell, chemical makeup, taste, vibrancy and “how it affects one’s consciousness,” says the Emerald Cup website. “The judging gets harder every year,” the organizers say.
In addition to the awards ceremony, which takes place on Sunday, there is live music and a series of seminars, including one titled, “Safe and Effective Use of Cannabis for Dogs and Cats.”
This year’s Emerald Cup is taking place as California counts down to the introduction of recreational marijuana sales in January.
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see:

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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