On Communal Living & Class Antagonism in a Poor City

@jalmondale I agree that limits are necessary, but in general, these rules have some sort of ulterior motive. If you are going to allow people to build enormous houses as of right, then they should be allowed to fill them with as many people as they safely can. Otherwise you're just inviting waste. If you want fewer people, lower floor-area ratios and mandate smaller dwellings. I believe fire codes should be the only restriction of number of people per dwelling, with occasional exceptions for transportation and water/sewer infrastructure. There's something ridiculous to me about allowing people to live in enormous houses that require tremendous resources to operate and contain a massive surfeit of habitable space, and then to tell them they have to limit the number of people because of vague issues of "neighborhood character."

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 5:22 pm 1

On Communal Living & Class Antagonism in a Poor City

Phenomenal article. I grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs, and when the economy really started to heat up there we saw the same thing. In that instance, the issue was single-family homes housing multiple non-related immigrants (and their families). The argument against it was always couched in the language of rationalism (too many cars means traffic, fire hazards, etc.) When I went to college, I saw the same thing again in my quaint little college town, this time relating to roommates in privately owned houses. The city council revised the zoning code to disallow more than 3 unrelated people from residing in a house. Once again, the justification was all about rationalism and good bureaucracy: safety, well-being, traffic. These justifications are dangerous. We have fire codes to prevent fires, traffic engineers and transit departments to optimize our roads, and noise ordinances to prevent disturbances. There is no reason that these issues should be addressed through bureaucratic redefinition of family and household.

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm 0

On The Cost of Buying a Washer/Dryer from Sears Outlet When Six (then Seven) Months Pregnant

@antheridia Thank you for the input! I love everything about it in theory. Great to hear it works in practice. Now to find a deal...

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 3:49 pm 0

On The Cost of Buying a Washer/Dryer from Sears Outlet When Six (then Seven) Months Pregnant

Quick, tangential question for those in the know: Do those combined washer/dryer units work? You know, the type that supposedly does it all in one machine, rather than stacked units? I am in the market and it sure would be nice to have the extra space. But I have heard they kind of blow. But then again, I don't do too much laundry, so perhaps it'll suffice?

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm 0

On Our Vanilla-and-Guilt-Flavored Real Estate Fantasies

Real estate fantasies...man. I know this well. I just wrote the largest check of my life to put down a deposit on a co-op in the city, and watching that money leave my bank account - surreal. And now I'm totally locked in. (Unless the co-op rejects me, in which case I think I'll probably feel a mix of anger/disappointment and relief.) And now that I'm locked in, every new listing I see brings a tiny pang of 'huh, that looks nice, could it be a better deal?' And when I see one out of my price range I think...should I wait? Should I make more money, save some money, hold off a little bit until some vague threshold in the future? And what about the housing market? Up, down, sideways? Am I timing the market right? But I must say, being a renter - even in my cheap rent-stabilized apartment - also gives me tons of anxiety. Shit breaks and it's not properly replaced, mice remind me that #3L is not a suite at the Plaza Hotel, and despite the protections of the lease I'm acutely aware that the apartment will never be mine, and that I don't want to live out the rest of my days in a 1-BR railroad apartment. I am interested to see what life will be like as a property-owning adult. We shall see.

Posted on October 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm 0

On OK, Gentrification is Lousy. Now What?

@Josh Michtom@facebook The "poor door" doesn't actually address the preservation of affordable housing. In NYC, that's done through policies like rent stabilization and J-51 tax benefits, and federally through various demand-side policies like Section 8 vouchers. The "poor door" involves the creation of new affordable housing. It's an important distinction, because at least in NYC, not only is there not much new affordable supply, but existing affordable units (generally those in the rent stabilization program) are being rapidly deregulated and adjusted to market rate.

Posted on October 3, 2014 at 11:23 am 0

On OK, Gentrification is Lousy. Now What?

@moreadventurous I think the poor door is brilliant, although I hate the term itself. It provides real and tangible economic integration while allowing developers to maximize profit, and sets a good precedent for future development. I don't understand how it is "class separation." Seems like the opposite, in that it brings people of low and moderate incomes into neighborhoods they would otherwise never be able to afford, allows them to send their kids to schools they could never send their kids to, etc. Most apartment buildings are already highly segregated by income, simply because they are in different neighborhoods and have different amenities and different rents, and people tend to rent at the top of their budget.

Posted on October 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm 0

On Who's Taking Care of Your Baby?

@EM That's a good point. I am fascinated by aging societies (like Germany or Japan). Japan in particular is interesting because the population is now declining. The US is below replacement rate overall but population growth comes in the form of immigration and the above-replacement rate fertility of immigrants. I am sure "third world" countries will eventually reach these replacement rates, particularly as urbanization increases, so maybe there is no crisis at all, and things will level out just below replacement rate at some point in the (far) future. Of course, by that point, the earth may not be the hospitable place we've come to know and love.

Posted on October 1, 2014 at 5:35 pm 0

On Who's Taking Care of Your Baby?

@highjump You can put words in my mouth, if you'd like, but I'd prefer if you didn't. I am saying that resource usage should be part of the calculation. Do you disagree?

Posted on October 1, 2014 at 5:28 pm 0

On Who's Taking Care of Your Baby?

@highjump I will definitely follow up on the resources you’ve mentioned. But I absolutely won’t detach the notion of humanity from resource usage, and I won’t concede that linking the two is somehow “dehumanizing.” I don’t even know what the word means in that context. We’ve got one planet that we live on together and that we are collectively destroying; in what way is it dehumanizing to note that adding many billions of people over the next few decades is problematic?

Posted on October 1, 2014 at 5:12 pm 0