I doubt the YIMBY movement is going to solve the problem, because they have alienated many lower-income voters.
It has side effects, but is also addressing a specific problem people want to handle that isn't necessarily fixed by "just build a bunch of new market-rate housing."
Weakening rent control in the 90s in CA didn't prevent the current homelessness problems, so I have some skepticism around taking that even further. Pushing people who could afford marginal housing into no longer being able to afford it seems like a bang-up way to increase homelessness.
Part of the root of the problem seems to be cities that trying to both avoid densifying but also increase commercial and office space and occupancy and jobs. Either policy would be fine by itself, but they explode when put together. Some cities are slowly starting to realize this, but saying "we don't need a constant economic growth rate of X% if we don't want the feel of our city to change" may not be an easy choice for politicians to sell.
I'm not well-versed in the state of rent control in CA, but I am seeing more rent control put forth as a viable alternative to just building more residences. That strikes me as a bad idea.
It is a sad fact of life that the best outcome for everybody is to let the economically productive take first pick of any available resources; because they will by definition take them and turn them into more resources.
This idea that someone has a right to live somewhere because they were there first is not unreasonable, but the path of least suffering is that people pay the market price for rent.
There needs to be pretty overwhelming evidence that the problem is with what consenting adults agree to rather than the government being unreasonable with the rules on constructing new building. I'd bet that the US hasn't reached that threshold yet.
This is just self-aggrandizing "The folks life has already financially favored deserve every continued advantage over everyone else because they are so smart and talented and God's chosen ones" market-over-everything nonsense.
Which is to say that the people who create money (what's more economically productive than willing money into existence?) via issuing credit (banks) or borrowing on the US's account (the Fed) will have first pick of available resources.
You also make an distinction between what consenting adults agree to in contracts and what those same consenting adults do in local governance and regulation. But why wouldn't they have the right to say "we don't want buildings over three stories here," say? Why is that necessarily "unreasonable" yet a landlord deciding to raise someone's rent 40% wouldn't be?
That is not a fact of life, it is simply a hypocritical way of legitimizing monopolistic advantage. What one defines as economically productive will unequivocally align with the groups one favors over others.
Power is not natural, it is created and reproduced, and naturalized beyond the realm of critical thought by false claims to the facts of Life.
Does life really as facts? Which life?
Case in point: neighborhoods that are proud of themselves for thwarting evil developers in the name of affordability end up with fewer affordable units, because we fund affordable units as a percentage of total construction.
For example, if SF wants to solve housing (providing shelter) by municipally mandated equality between purchasing power of people, this has a certain cost, and this has a certain appeal for some residents. Would they pay more taxes to get council erected units for the less fortunate? Maybe. So these preferences have to be calculated and priced.
Sure, the market would get the most new units online in a given time, which would result in prices falling. But it seems like SF wants an apmost centrally planned solution.
They save the tax cut and buy back stocks.
They are not starting farms to create more food or building new kinds of companies — not doing economic net new things. They’re growing their own ephemeral wealth pile
The old ways, best ideas, they have all died out in human society. No longer do we worship Roman Gods and build pyramids for Pharaohs
It’s hubris and and vanity to think we have the iron clad solution today in our time
We’re just carrying water for dead and selfish
Consenting adults who have been told this is exactly right their entire lives by government backed research into propaganda models gifted to university and media and advertising will I’m sure magically come to their senses
Given the trade offs, the only reforms I'd make to rent control is having some kind of gradual income requirements. The higher your income, the less rent control you get, up to the point (say, $100k+) where you aren't protected by it at all. Even that is mostly for optics, though, and wouldn't help housing costs too much.
> The urban design think tank SPUR estimated in 2014 that San Francisco had “roughly 172,000 units of rent controlled housing” at the time, about 45 percent of the city’s entire housing stock.
But you're right that the issue now is zoning and building codes of course.
Where do you think new housing has come up most in the Bay Area? Poor neighborhoods with lots of rent control, or rich neighbourhoods?
(Hint: you don't hear about gentrification issues in rich parts of the bay area because nobody can build new things there)
I think you're right and part of the problem is reflected in your comment. YIMBYs are supremely confident in its diagnosis of the complex housing problem: it's rent control and other impediments to the free market. They are so confident that it's literally at the level of flipping the bozo bit on low-income and minority housing activists and attempting to speak on their behalf. They think the answer is so obvious that to think otherwise means you're being manipulated by rich white NIMBY homeowners.
That's understandably a bit insulting. It's led longtime housing activists to note that YIMBY has a "white privilege problem... They don't understand poverty."
Meanwhile housing activists are saying things like, hey, maybe it has something to do with, I dunno, massively defunding the major force in constructing affordable housing for the poor and working class (HUD)? Perhaps the income disparity is so great between low-income renters and tech workers that there is a wee bit of understandable skepticism that market-rate development alone will bring down the market price to something the working poor can afford?
YIMBYs need to do a better job of listening to and understanding the legitimate concerns from these communities if they want to be successful -- not attempt to talk over them (literally) or rush through legislation that gets patched up later after protest.
YIMBYs do not have a position on rent control, because both sides are advocated for and debated.
The biggest problem with the YIMBY movement is people blindly accepting criticisms of YIMBY without bothering to investigate what YIMBY movements actually believe.
When there was a big panel discussion in my small Bay Area town last year, without a YIMBY member on the panel, the panel all concluded that YIMBYs oppose affordable housing. However, in this small town, the ONLY PEOPLE WHO SHOWED UP to advocate for recent affordable housing projects were YIMBY members. And it turns out that SB 35, the only YIMBY legislation I know about, is actually about building affordable housing.
So please stop reinforcing false beliefs.
YIMBYs do a great job of listening. They have changed their engagement in response to this. They are politically naive in that they believe they can advocate for ideas and trust that people will listen to them, instead of seeking out engagement of current power brokers first. And for example they didn't expect SB 827 to get the momentum that it got, perhaps not realizing that including transportation and basic good urban planning they will wake up a lot more people than with they did with the SB 35 affordable housing bill.
California politics is all about optics, unfortunately. At least, it is, until we stop letting that happen.
So it's definitely a problem of Yimby not managing it's image and forming alliances well.
While I support the Yimby approach the truth is it is largely led by upper middle class white people. To get things done in politics, you don't to have the best argument, you need to have the best consensus of citizens and $$ supporting you. The yimby org doesn't realize this - they think they can steam roll over minority groups to get things done, but frankly they need to a better job building bridges with these groups. This is how politics work.
E.g. it may be the case that rent control and other roadblocks increase the cost of housing in the long run (bad for anyone new moving to the Bay Area), but it certainly benefits the current occupants of rent-controlled housing.
That's one reason to be slightly skeptical of the label 'minority' organizations—it's unclear whether all minorities have the same interests at stake. In particular, minorities who currently live in below-market cost housing have markedly different expected payoff from a change in policy than minorities who currently live outside of the city.
Certainly, good politics and making nice can smooth over some amount of disagreement, but is there really a mechanism right now that could make everyone better off?
I, too, would like to live in a world where:
- Minorities and/or lower income people aren't priced out of the city
- ... and will have enough units to live in in the future
- and widespread construction so tech workers or other immigrants have cheaper rent
- the character of our neighborhoods aren't gentrified away
- and it isn't too expensive to build
...but experience as engineers tells us that there is always a compromise to be made when you ask for everything. The political fight here is who is will end up compromising, and how much.
Sure real-estate investors often complain about regulations. But those complaints are rooted in the effects of regulation on liquidity and profits, not on afforadability. Up market housing gets built because that's what people with money want  and where the net returns from developable parcels are often higher...commercial development has much higher potential returns still. That's why the big money like insurance reserves often prefers Class A office, retail, and industrial REIT's over single family or condominiums.
The big money in real-estate that drives markets is at a scale where affordable or even ordinary housing deals aren't big enough. The timelines of big real-estate money are often 30-50 years to match liabilities like life-insurance. The only part of the US housing market which comes close to that timeline is conventional 30 year mortgages. But at $100-200k per deal, it takes thousands of deals just to get $1 billion out the door. Then the thirty years is still just theory: there's refinancing and home sales making the practical investment turnover five or ten years (times thousands of investments).
Unaffordablility is a sign of high market demand where affordable housing is less preferred by investors than raw land or unredeveloped redevelopable property. Holding developable property means there's a real asset beneath the investment and the risk/reward can be spread across multiple economic cycles. Construction not only requires the injection of additional capital, but ties the risk/reward to a particular economic cycle. Again, it is worth keeping in mind that at the macro level the real-estate markets are largely driven by parked capital not borrowed money in the form of money. B2C isn't what drives real-estate markets over the long term.
The US housing market is driven by government intervention. FHA mortgages and the mortgage interest deduction are two easy examples. These exist because traditionally there has not been much incentive for the bulk of capital in the real-estate market to invest in houses for ordinary Americans. Historically, the sprawling checkerboard suburbs are largely the result of smaller ad hoc deals not the really big players. Though that's changing a bit, the involvement of the big players tends to encourage housing to move upscale and into multi-use developments with commercial and retail components..."the affordable lifestyle" doesn't look good on a sales brochure.
 Selling to people with money is a good sales strategy.
Millennium Partners  navigated San Francisco's notorious entitlement process. That's what they do as sophisticated developers. Part of that navigation (according to Wikipedia) was refusing to submit the project to peer review. In real-estate development terms, that usually means lawyering up and running rough-shod over city staff and usually garnering project support of line staff's political superiors. Better real-estate lawyers cost more money and city staff attempts to influence every real-estate development whether luxury or market rate (that's their job and why there is an entity called the "planning department"). The important point is there are a lot of fixed costs with real-estate development that only weakly correlate with project size. 
More importantly, the money behind Millennium Partners needs big expensive projects:
With these projects, Jeffries created a new investment vehicle to provide equity capital. The resulting financial structure included a consortium of German financial institutions including ERGO, Provinzial Wuerttembergische, AXA Colonia Immobilien AG, Energie Baden Wuerttemberg AG, as well as Goldman Sachs' Whitehall Fund and George Soros and his Quantum Realty Fund Limited. 
These are the interests that drive speculative real-estate development and speculative real-estate development is where most housing comes from these days, public housing is mostly done and dusted.
To put a finer point on the lack of deep market interest in building housing, consider Apple's new headquarters. Residential was never even on the table for the parcels Apple acquired from HP. No residential developer was going to outspend Apple for property adjacent to Apple's existing campus and if one had, the housing would have had to have been luxury not market rate to make the numbers work. At the reported $3,000,000/acre, 20 dwellings/acre and 4:1 construction to land ratio each unit would be ~$750,000. Once you're at $750,000, there's no reason to cap unit mix at a 4:1 cost. That's just where they will start.
That brings us to risk. How quickly can Silicon Valley actually absorb 2000 $750,000+ units? What finances $1.5+ billion+ of residential development? Not today. Back in 2010 when housing prices were falling and financial markets were still unsteady. Apple was able to purchase because it had a pile of cash. Residential developers didn't.
The only people Apple was competing with were institutions interested in parking money in real-estate and waiting for the value to go up. In an alternate world where that happened, there is no reason to assume that the HP parcel would have wound up as housing. It might have, but the most likely outcome is it would have remained as the "higher and better" commercial use.
: In residential development there can even be an inverse correlation between entitlement costs and affordability: i.e. an SRO will probably face more political friction than luxury apartments.
: http://millenniumptrs.com/ see Christopher M. Jefferies profile.
: Even commercial developers couldn't make the numbers pencil out for commercial reuse of the existing buildings.
This would create disincentives for seeking a higher salary (because an increase in salary might be offset by getting kicked out of your BMR unit).
It seems like lower income voters reliably vote against their economic self-interest across the United States.
A community near me is booming because telecommuting makes it practical to commute to NYC by train twice a week. Eventually that will lead to new business and economic activity. We shouldn’t be screwing up property rights everywhere because tech companies are too stupid and have too much dumb money to geographically diversify and prefer to pay too much for talent instead.
IBM, GE and other legacy technology companies demonstrated in their heyday that you can run engineering organizations in all sorts of places. Mainframe tech was done in Binghamton, Kingston, and Vermont of all places.
It’s a struggling area with a lot of nice cheap property, both in and out of town. The Hudson Amtrak is about a 15 minute drive and 2-2.5 hour trip to Manhattan.
IMO Upstate once you get out of the Hudson Valley is relatively cheap and nice.
It's not just a SF or NYC problem. Look at what is happening in Denver, Austin, and Pittsburgh. All these cities are seeing dramatic housing price increases.
I live 10 minutes from downtown in a triplex, where the other two units(I own) rent out for 1,900 a month, and my wife and I get 1,400 sqft. I bought it for 200,000.(beautiful neighborhood built around 1910,)
And it's very easy to make 140,000+ here as a developer. It's hard to make google/netflix 300k-400k, but you probably don't need to be as good either.
I don't know where you're coming from with Pittsburgh, where the average home price was $125,000 in 2017.
If somebody wants to make the argument that housing prices are a calamitous problem for tech industry employees, that will be supportable. But most Americans don't work for the tech industry (I would not be surprised if most programmers don't work in the tech industry).
I'm sorry but you didn't prove that. You proved that 80% of Americans live near houses that are under 300k. To prove that 80% of Americans aren't suffering from housing issues you would have to show that 80% of American households earn an income such that with 25% of that income they can afford a reasonable home. I don't know the answer to that.
I perfectly understand that insane housing prices are a local Bay Area issue. What I'm unsure of is what the case is for most of Americans. The reason I say this is because my high school friends set (of whom 0% are engineers and 0% are in Bay Area), a significant portion (>30%) are struggling with housing related issues. I know that's anecdotal, but I'm just asking if anyone has a real data point to indicate if the housing issue is national or not. Citing that most of America has low house prices does not answer that question.
For context I grew up in an area where a 100K house would be considered luxurious so I am perfectly aware of how low housing prices are in America compared to Bay Area. That area also has lost tons of jobs so in order to support themselves, the younger generation has had to move to higher COL cities where there are jobs available (and where they can't afford housing). If you have any references that show that 80% of the population can easily afford local housing then I would gladly agree with your assertion that the housing issue isn't national.
For most people, housing swallows every bit of the income difference and then some. The difference between making $90k a year and, say, $60k a year doesn't look so bad when the housing costs are 5-10x cheaper.
If your goal is to own a detached home, then the costs are so disparate that most people who could buy a house in the Midwest tomorrow won't earn enough to own such a place on the coasts in their lifetime.
Because people from SF and NYC are saying "F it, I'm cashing out while I'm winning" and moving to those places.
Although, if it is the party of the incumbent is in charge of the municipalities where this is a problem, it might get a bit uncomfortable for the incumbent to place it as a major part of their reelection strategy.
Khrushchev championed the construction of pre-fabricated concrete "plank" 5 story buildings - they built 2 factories in different parts of USSR and cranked them out, delivering them mostly by train to all corners of the country.
The designs were pretty much the same, down the interior furnishings and apartment layouts (a plot point of the perennial New Year's Eve favorite movie, "Irony of Fate"), and fit and finish were sub-standard. BUT, people did get their housing, had kids, went on with their lives.
With all the post-USSR criticism of Soviet leaders, you realize that Khrushchev had very few bad things said about him...
I think the person, or organization, that is seen to (somehow, however they do it) solve the housing problems we have, will have a great deal of political goodwill and possibly political power.
EDIT: some "Khrushchevka Housing" info https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/03/the-disappearing-mass...
EDIT: BTW, would it be a good idea to organize AMA thread for those who'd like to get some first-hand account of what the life in USSR looked like in the 60s,70s,80s (all aspects, including technology)?
I am not Russian, have been to Russia, speak only a little bit of Russian.
I think an AMA thread would be a very good idea! I would be interested to hear more about DRAKON and any LISP and AI work that was done during those periods.
EDIT: forgot to mention that Moscow is not a typical Russian city. You won't make a big mistake if you consider it a separate country. Whatever you observe in Moscow is specific to Moscow only. The state of the roads/public transportation across the country at large is (reportedly) not much better than it used to be in USSR (on average).
* You were told which job you would get
* You would be assigned an apartment to live in. Imagine going to the DMV but instead it's a housing office where you'd get a place
* You could opt out of paying for a TV subscription but then a government agent would come to put a seal on the TV. They put a couple of pieces of lead around the electric plug, and crimp them on with a special tool that stamped a tamper-evident pattern. Just wild!
* In the early days I am told there would be frequent "work actions" where workers at random companies would be asked to go outside and do manual labor where needed e.g. when clearing right of way for a railroad, laying ties, etc.
1) basically yes, but ... (the story is really too long)
2) hell no! What do you mean by "assigned"? If after University you got the job in a different city (not very common arrangement, and normally this different city would be some place you would never consider as a first choice for living), you could get a room in a shared apartment, in which you would get stuck forever, even after you got married. But still, there was a chance to get a separate apartment eventually (with family and kids, certainly). But if you stayed in your native city - (90% of cases) situation was really dire... long story. (BTW, you couldn't move to another city afterwards either, except by way of marriage. There were some loopholes for workers though. Again, I'd need a "switch" statement with some "cases" to elaborate.
3) Never heard of such things. Don't remember paying for TV at all, and under no circumstances they would cut it off: TV was the main instrument of propaganda).
4) Work actions, as you call them, were normal occurrence, and some types of these actions were a lot of fun. Though gathering potatoes under the rain was not very enjoyable by itself, we were always provided with the supply of technical spirits (diluted to 40%) to keep our morale high :)
EDIT: I used the term "technical spirits", b/c that's how the stuff was called in Russia - it's the supply of low-quality (rather stinky) spirits allotted to computer center allegedly for cleaning electrical contacts, but was never used for that purpose b/c it had much more important applications, including (but not limited to) as alcoholic drink and a medium of exchange
- Lower housing prices overall
- Lower housing costs for low-income households (heading off the concern that only building market-rate housing could hypothetically lower the price of luxury housing without meaningfully reducing housing costs for low-income households)
- Fewer people have to leave the area because of high housing costs
... I haven't been able to find much. What are the best sources that say that YIMBY policies and especially pro- market-rate housing policies actually work? Or the converse - that affordable housing quotas or similar policies tend to make housing less affordable overall.
"Impacts and Outcomes of Affordable Housing Schemes
"[...] However, a recent review of the literature [...] suggests that both benefits and costs of inclusionary zoning schemes have been overstated:
"[...] but only modest amounts of affordable housing have been produced through IZ programmes."
By way of definitions via Google Search:
"Inclusionary zoning (IZ) is an affordable housing tool that links the production of affordable housing to the production of market-rate housing. ..."
 Urban Planning and the Housing Market: International Perspectives for Policy and Practice. Nicole Gurran, Glen Bramley. Springer, 2017. Page 344. Google Books ID xmomDwAAQBAJ.
But to your point, my anecdotal impression is that even though the average 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom in Japan Tokyo is smaller than an equivalent in the US, the price per sq foot in Tokyo is also much less than in New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles.
Hard to find reliable, cross-country data but this blog post  pegs price for rental square foot for SF at $4.75 and Tokyo at $2.79.
It's also true about the parking, but again regulations are at play here. Minimum parking requirements are the norm, not the exception in the US. Developers can’t build less parking even if they want to. Even a giant metropolis like San Francisco didn't start to eliminate minimum parking requirements until the late 90s .
It's important to note that, at least for California, the only YIMBY victory has been this SB-35 Planning and zoning: affordable housing: streamlined approval process 
So I think it's really important to stress that "marketrate only" is not a YIMBY ideal. That's something else.
What exactly is is that you’re looking for evidence of?
I'm speculating here, but I think that part of the reason people oppose housing types considered unpleasant is that people may be less likely to stay in them if they have the opportunity to move. If you move into a nice unit (house, townhouse, apartment, whatever) in a stiff market, and the market eases up and you can afford to move, you might not, because moving is a lot of work and the expected benefit is small. But if you move into an unpleasant space in a difficult market, you're likely out of there as soon as you have the chance. This might imply that unpleasant housing types are more likely to become vacant during a market downturn, and because of problems associated with vacant housing, people might want to avoid unpleasant housing being constructed near them. The key exception here are the small add-on units recently legalized in San Francisco; because the main unit will remain occupied, issues associated with vacancy and disrepair of the subsidiary unit are prevented.
However, there aren't clear standards that determine whether a multi-unit building will be a place people want to stay, whereas SFH are usually for whatever reason expected to retain their occupants. So when I say "to create an expectation", I mean an expectation among the neighbors that whoever moves in is going to like the place they live in enough that they won't move out in five years when the market cools off. And if you expect the market will never cool off, you're also assuming you never solve the housing crisis, which is not a good founding assumption for making plans to solve the housing crisis.
I could imagine standards like: external entrances, private outdoor space (balcony), in-unit laundry, sound insulation, and separate ventilation. But those are just my preferences; any actual standards ought to be based on reliable evidence of some kind. It may be possible to survey the kinds of units that people move out of during housing market downturns in order to identify some predictive characteristics which can both influence housing standards and allay the concerns of voters.
I do think you're looking at two different opposition demographics here. On the one hand, you have homeowners concerned about the future of their neighborhood; on the other hand, you have low-income communities concerned about gentrification. While they occasionally support the same political candidates -- particularly in San Francisco -- they live in different places, and crucially, the latter often live in neighborhoods which have had many apartment buildings for years (e.g. the Mission). These are not entirely separate fights, but I did mean to address the homeowners' concerns in this particular argument, motivated by the observation that suburbs are quite common and underutilized. I would even say that building larger apartment buildings in low-income medium-density districts is the norm for addressing housing issues right now (that and building exurbs), while upzoning less dense areas is not currently performed in a way that seems to point to a more general strategy for addressing housing issues.
It's really kind of incredible. These prices seem economically impossible, yet there they are and houses are apparently selling. It seems like there actually is no ceiling to house prices. A lot of people blame cash buyers from overseas using real estate as a financial instrument but I have yet to see hard evidence that this is prevalent enough to explain this madness.
Vancouver is proposing new parking norms that force at least half the parking spots in a residential parking garage to be extra tall, to accommodate tall vans for disabled people.
This is a great idea, but it again raises the cost of building new homes, for the benefit of the minority who need a full-height van because of their disability.
It became possible to think of houses as investments. Stop the speculation. Return to sound principles.
Or will we wait until the same thing happens to food, water and then air? Can't happen? Why not?
Regulation isn't going to solve this problem. Regulation caused it.
When Millennials on the coasts talk about how their generation won't ever own homes, I have to wonder if they're seriously that out of touch.
Here's a house that's for sale in my hometown of St. Louis. I just picked a neighborhood at random and selected the first house I saw for sale around this price (~$100k):
This is a quiet, safe, well-maintained, working-class neighborhood. That house is nothing to write home about, but it's not a bad little bungalow, either. That'd be a great home for any young family.
I get it, I get it -- "but then I'd have to live in St. Louis!" That's funny, I guess, but who is the joke really on? How much is that ocean worth to you?
Perhaps by land area. But not necessarily by population.
Something like 1/3rd of the population lives in the DC-NYC-Boston corridor. Throw in the West Coast, Chicago, etc. and you're looking at a much more national problem.
There's a lot of people who live in single family houses in those areas.
How many years do you have to pay mortgage on that house before you break even? What state will the city be in in 15 years? What will your actual ROI be? How long will it take to sell the house?
So you can buy a house in St. Louis, one of the worst cities in the US for crime. That doesn't make that house a good investment. It makes it a mediocre investment that will probably barely keep up with inflation and be a pain to sell when you decide to move.
Relevant article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/my-10-year-odyssey-through-amer...
> I get it, I get it -- "but then I'd have to live in St. Louis!" That's funny, I guess, but who is the joke really on? How much is that ocean worth to you?
Ironic sentiment from someone living in New York. I don't see you moving to St. Louis to buy a cheap house.
I own a home very near the one in that Zillow link.
- "What about crime!?" (Most of the region is quite safe. The MSA is about middle of the pack on crime. Yes, there are some bad neighborhoods. And there's a ~0% chance anybody reading this on HN would ever live in one of those neighborhoods.)
- "How long will it take to sell a house in St. Louis?!" (The housing market is doing fine there.)
- "Do they even have jobs in St. Louis?!" (Median household income in the metro is a pretty healthy $52,340.)
I think I have a pretty good idea what that guy imagines St. Louis -- and Cincinnati and Indianapolis and Milwaukee and Kansas City -- to be like, and I strongly suspect it's got a pretty loose relationship with reality. Unfortunately for cities like St. Louis, marketing is important, and there's probably nothing I could say that would change that guy's mind. There's almost nothing in his comment that makes any real sense, but it is what it is.
From experience, people do not want you to respond to complaints about the high cost of housing on the coasts with evidence that the problem isn't universal.
If you accept that the South and the Midwest are legitimate places to live, then you're forced to really consider it, which is difficult -- moving long distances is hard! It's much easier to conclude that those places aren't real options.
I think you're getting downvoted because none of them are at any sort of physical limit.
Density is amazingly good for humans: it promotes huge amounts of intellection and economic growth.
Density is what so much of the country is yearning for, and being denied by prior generations and entrenched wealthy residents.
There's only one place density should go: cities. And they have a ton of room for growth in the US to even match other dense cities in world, such as Paris.
i agree there are a lot benefits to density, i'm not down playing those benefits. but i do think we have a lot of great technology in play and coming down the pipe that allows us to have many of the same benefits across large geographic areas.
also i feel large cities are captive to it's wealthy benefactors whether it's a company, an individual, or a politician who wields influence.
more importantly, it's far easier to create incentives to entice companies with high economic value and high paying jobs to an area with few competitive forces.
One example: the US central bank's (Fed) Quantitative Easing (QE). In my view, QE's inflation happened before QE started. A significant purpose of QE was to prop up the loans made before the financial crisis. The inflation happened with the creation of trillions of dollars of securitized sub-prime housing loans. Rather than allowing those loans to default, the Fed is acting as a buyer of last resort through QE MBS purchases . Without the Fed, much less money would be available for housing loans, and their prices would return to historical ratios to income [1, 2].
 Blue line in http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data/Fig3-1.xls
Some people present it as a solution to all the world's ills, which it is far from. But it's a good foundation for many solutions for many ills.
Frankly, I think the only way housing crisis can be resolved is
1. taxing severely anyone who owns multiple house/condos (not apartment units) with the plan of renting. Probably gradually higher tax rate based on number of units or monthly rent fee.
2. Heavy tax for profit made from flipping a house.
The goals of the tax would be to control excessive amount of $ from flowing into real estate.
Real estate investment is made out to be a really smart/great investment. But why?
Anecdotally, I bought a modest house in Seattle a long time ago, when you could do zero down payments so I just paid some closing costs, etc. I rented out rooms to friends to cover most of the mortgage. I was making less than 6 figures at the time. After 3 years, I sold it. After commissions, etc the return on investment was 12x. And it was tax free. If I'd kept it another 10 years until the current boom, apparently the ROI would have been closer to 40x. Not many other investment vehicles can offer that. Of course I moved to the bay area and didn't immediately buy a new house so I'm totally screwed now, along with everyone else.
But housing investment is sucking in $ from everywhere, even non-American investors. Some at top are raking in money while everyone else is paying for it.
There is a reason more and more wealth is concentrated in less and less people at the top.