The single-family detached home is one of the glories of America’’s material civilization. Without noisy and nosy neighbors upstairs, downstairs, and sharing a wall next door, the single-family home becomes our castle, our refuge from enforced contact with others. Privacy!
Estimates vary slightly, but the overwhelming majority of us live in single-family homes, most of us as owners, though the financial crisis of 2008 set back owner-occupied housing in favor of renting. This estimate has 77% of us in such homes:
But many of the social engineers among us hate single family homes. They consume too much energy, take up too much land, and discourage use of transit with low population density. Because on average they are more expensive than similar-sized and located apartments, they are held to be “racist” toward those minority groups that don’t enjoy average or higher levels of income than the majority, even though actual housing discrimination is illegal.
Unsurprisingly, the most progressive jurisdictions are already busy changing the law to favor multi-unit housing and eliminate single-family housing–only districts. My hometown of Minneapolis last year ended single-family housing zoning for the entire city, dictating a radical change in the character and population density of the city over time in the name of diversity and equality.
The State of California (of course) debated a bill to do the same thing to the entire state (including Beverly Hills), S.B. 50:
If you live in a single-family home in California, it’s likely everyone else in your neighborhood does too.
That could change under a state measure that would require California cities and counties to permit duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes on much of the residential land now zoned for only single-family houses. The proposal was recently added to Senate Bill 50, legislation by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that also would allow mid-rise apartment construction near mass transit as well as small apartment complexes and town homes in wealthy communities in large counties including Los Angeles.
The bill would not spell the end of single-family housing in the state. Developers could continue to build such homes on their land if they chose, and the legislation prohibits the demolition of single-family homes to build fourplexes without further government review. Even so, allowing as many as four homes on parcels of land where now just one is permitted would trigger significant change compared with how California has grown over much of the last century.
The horror! (Photo credit: Sam Beebe.)
That bill was placed in limbo last May, despite the Democrats’ total dominance of the state Legislature and governorship. Methinks the rich donors in Beverly Hills, Woodside, and other tony neighborhoods don’t want apartment-dwellers, their noise, and their traffic disturbing the tranquility they paid good money to achieve.
But in Virginia, where Democrats just swept to power, the levelers are feeling their oats, and a similar statewide jihad against single-family only neighborhoods has been launched by a state rep with a troubling background. Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller News Foundation reports:
Democrats in Virginia may override local zoning to bring high-density housing, including public housing, to every neighborhood statewide — whether residents want it or not. (snip)
House Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, a Democrat, introduced six housing measures Dec. 19, coinciding with Democrats’ takeover of the state legislature in November.
“Single-family housing zones would become two-zoned,” Samirah told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Areas that would be impacted most would be the suburbs that have not done their part in helping out.”
“The real issues are the areas in between very dense areas which are single-family zoned. Those are the areas that the state is having significant trouble dealing with. They’re living in a bubble,” he said.
He said suburbs were “mostly white and wealthy” and that their local officials — who have historically been in charge of zoning — were ignoring the desires of poor people, who did not have time to lobby them to increase suburban density.
Sure, poorer people would like to live in nice, quiet suburban neighborhoods. They’d also like to drive the fancy cars that wealthier people enjoy, not to mention eating the steaks, seafood, and other tasty items that grace the tables of upper-income families. What’s next? Requiring people to invite strangers to dine with them and borrow their cars?
I’d wager that Delegate Samirah fancies himself a fan of “diversity.” But he doesn’t favor diversity in housing options. Neighborhoods exclusively composed of single-family homes are not to be allowed in his vision of the future.
He also has an antisemitism problem:
Samirah himself has a history of anti-Semitic comments, including saying sending money to Israel is worse than funding the Klu [sic] Klux Klan.
“I am so sorry that my ill-chosen words added to the pain of the Jewish community, and I seek your understanding and compassion as I prove to you our common humanity,” he said in February. (snip)
His father is Jordanian refugee Sabri Samirah, who authorities banned from the U.S. for a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, in part because of his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2014.
I’ve got some news for Delegate Samirah, Virginia and California Democrats, and the party’s presidential field: Americans love their single family houses and the quiet neighborhoods composed of them. They will not take kindly to shoehorning in apartments and multi-family dwellings imposed by state-level politicians. In my own ultra-liberal Berkeley neighborhood high in the hills, a plot of city-owned land was to be sold off, and “activists” demanded that public housing be constructed so that poor people could enjoy Bay views, too. You’ve never seen liberals turn on a dime faster than that. Locals came up with all sorts of objections, mostly couched in compassion — you see, without a car there is no shopping available.
In the end, the land was sold to a developer who put luxury houses on the plot.