Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Mystery High Density Mandates

When the subject of high density housing comes up, Mr. Shuey will often resort to deflecting responsibility to the State.  He'll say things like, 'every city has to designate certain parts of the city as high density'.  The problem with this statement is that it's false.  Much like the other false statements or misleading statements that Mr. Shuey has made, this one seems to be a popular refrain in order to deflect criticism.  The people of Clayton are opposed to high density housing in downtown, so when Mr. Shuey takes action that would allow it, he deceptively tries to pass the buck to the State, claiming there are mandates for high density.

It seems like he was able to convince the Clayton Pioneer of this same falsehood.  In their most recent editorial, they claimed that "state law requires every city to provide zoning for high density and affordable housing".  This is only partially true.  It is correct that every city must provide zoning that would accommodate all levels of income.  But it is wrong to say that state law requires every city to provide zoning for high density housing.  That is a false statement.  

It's easy to see that Mr. Shuey is simply wrong on this matter.  We can look at example cities in CA that do not have high density zoning.  I did a cursory search and note that the City of Belvedere and the City of Trinidad do not have zoning for high density housing.  I won't speculate on why Mr. Shuey feels the need to mislead people about what the State actually mandates, but it's clear what he is saying is false.

Some cities, including Clayton, have chosen to zone for higher densities in order to meet their affordable housing requirement, but this is not the only way to do so and when Shuey or the Pioneer make this claim they are being disingenuous.  Clayton is in a different situation - we have a surplus in housing units at all levels of income.  As a result, there is no requirement for additional high density, and as the under utilization in the Southbrook project demonstrates, we don't even need to utilize high density where it is already zoned.