Often this is called the "Grand Bargain," that new housing can be allowed, but only if it is constrained to a tiny area (which becomes increasingly dense), while the bulk of single family homes are left untouched.
The challenge for voters is to discern between those that are calling for more housing that are genuine YIMBYs, that want to build more housing for everyone more equitably, everywhere in all neighbourhoods, and those like Andreessen, which merely want to continue on with Grand Bargain thinking, and want to continue the status quo by which the poors live as far as possible away from him.
We need to find a way to rebrand the American dream to be this.
NYC was by far the most depressing and soul-crushing for me. It's lonely despite being crowded, it's filthy, it's unreasonably expensive, it's hard to get anywhere, and it's unfortunately full of people with a similarly condescending viewpoint about people/places outside the city.
I now live in a large southern city with lots of sidewalks and love it, and returning to New York makes me incredibly sad for the people who still think it's the only city to live in.
My point is not that I'm correct. It's just how I feel. Rather, I suggest you examine how you talk about your viewpoint to avoid sounding so confident about things you have no actual experience in.
I'm not being condescending about living in suburbs or rural areas, just the design of a large portion of car dominated suburban areas of the US. As an example, I just got back from Pittsburgh, where I was staying in an AirBnB that was only 2 miles north of the city. I was really excited to explore Pittsburgh and was hoping to bike or walk down to the city after work but it would have been a 50min walk down a narrow road that's dominated by F150s and mini vans, something that even as an adult I didn't feel safe doing. I got to see a large portion of the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh and most of it looked like that, as I was driving through it it hit me that there are no kids out even though it's the middle of Summer, the only place we saw any was at shopping malls with their parents.
NYC is not a soul crushing place full of condescending people if step outside of the touristy areas of Manhattan. I grew up in Queens (Ridgewood / Kew Gardens Hills) and lived in Harlem and northern Brooklyn as an adult, all of which are some of the most diverse zip codes of the world with a ton of friendly middle class people. As a teenager I was able to bike or take the train to any basketball court in the city, say hi and play with people from all over the world. These days with all of the bike lanes that they added I can bike to almost anywhere in the city in under 30min and it's my main mode of transportation.
EDIT: Good biking video demonstrating soul crushing new york https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77nmYdbJSJ0
It sounds like your experience in Pitt was bad and I'm sorry you didn't have fun. I'm glad you found a home in NYC that you love.
What's not okay is projecting your suburb in Pitt onto the entire Midwest. There's a large geography to the US with many different cultures. What you wrote felt condescending and classist when framed alongside your projection that doesn't ring true for most of the towns in the Midwest.
To frame this with your example, if I only spoke about the worst parts of NYC and then projected them onto the entire city I doubt you'd have a very high opinion of me. That's why people don't like what you said.
In Europe, small town life is not necessarily suburban life, there are a lot of of walk-able villages connected via a train line that you could take to commute to your job in city, and they're wayyyyyyyyyy better than the sadness that is US & Canadian suburbia.
Honestly, I am very frustrated that this forum struggles so repeatedly to empathize with voices outside large metros, but I will attempt to break this down shotgun-style for you.
> As a New Yorker driving around middle america is super depressing.
Imagine if I called the place you're from, the place you grew up "depressing". All for a lack of sidewalks? As others shared we have woods, parks, lots of activities, etc. Yeah, it's not the same culture as NYC, but I don't think it requires being insulted. It's also not factual that you can only get around with a car. I survived til I was 16 with just a bike and rode everywhere. Still do, and now I live in San Jose.
> I can't imagine growing up trapped in my own home on a street with no sidewalks, only being able to go where my parents take me and finally growing into driving age so that I can go from parking lot to parking lot.
To most of the midwest and south, this is an extreme exaggeration but conveyed as commonplace.
I don't owe any more mental energy to this thread, so this is my last reply. I do hope that you (and him!) can be aware of the microaggressions in this thread and why they're not okay.
I’ve also done road trips through large parts of Europe and can tell you that none of it is littered with strip malls, parking lots and houses on streets without sidewalks.
It is easy to find scapegoats for the poor urbanism of the United States, but very difficult to think of a solution without a radical change in the nature of governance.
It's not quite a fair comparison.
Compare Pittsburgh suburb (https://goo.gl/maps/bFBWcsJ6EeL1kgVe7) to the suburbs of the town that I was born in (https://goo.gl/maps/ktkWzAUa3tyz37hQ7).
This is an even better example: https://goo.gl/maps/cAECdLXaBVoErtsFA vs https://goo.gl/maps/oBmruFK2Sqaxg6TW7
EDIT: Same goes for the Bay Area, staying by YC offices for the interviews was depressing too. Look at this: https://goo.gl/maps/ERCkS7zrHw8tM2or9
You can certainly cycle in New York. Cycling has increased dramatically in New York City over the past decade or so with the installation of more cycle-friendly infrastructure, including over 100 miles of protected bike lanes, city bike sharing, e-bike rental apps, etc.
It's not hard, not far to reach.
Also, while you're right in that comparatively many people in Berlin are smokers (although that might be a commonality of cities as opposed to the countryside), they're still a minority of <30% , so more like 1/3 than 3/4 (it can feel like every second guy in the street though).
The rules are not enforced.
I’ve lived here since 2008 and it is unlike any other major world capital.
I bet that even if a place managed to hide it from the public health authorities (they DO regularly do unannounced inspections anywhere food is served or made, after all), it would just be a colossal competitive disadvantage in most places. How strange that Berlin is different!
As you sort-of implicitly suggest, it doesn't have to be a choice between a soulless suburb with no sidewalks and a piss-soaked urban hellscape-- with NOTHING in-between.
What we do need, however, is more urban centers with walkable, complete streets, human amenities and a broad mix of different housing types for a wide spectrum income levels and NOT separate isolated enclaves for the wealthy and the poor. Especially important are appropriate and truly useable "third-places" rather just bauble shops for the wealthy, dollar stores for the poor, and distant megamalls for the middle-class surrounded an ocean of asphalt.
I am just saying that NYC is not the best example of where we want urban centers to aspire to. For one thing, nothing in the USA is as big and or has the financial resources of NYC.
Towns in the US that want to improve their housing situation need to look towards what OTHER SIMILAR towns are doing and are successful at. NYC is such a weird case on the basis of scale and density.
I think that's all basically fair. I'm interested in how some places in Utah are trying to tackle housing, but haven't spent much time reading about it yet.
NYC isn't perfect, its just better than everywhere else ive lived.
So you pretty much agree with the person that you're implying is an elitist, and live in exactly the same neighborhood they would choose if they found a good job in your city. You're not defending McMansion-dominated neighborhoods very well.
I don't understand the aggression.
They feel sorry for people who are different from them and want different things. Some people love being able to drive places (my disabled sister is one of them).
I feel sorry for people who don't know they're in a bubble. Maybe they truly want to live in a cookie-cutter McMansion suburb and just won't allow themselves to consider it for cultural reasons. That specifically is unlikely, but some version of it is probably happening, and they're missing out as a result.
YIMBYism is about options: those who do prefer to live in an area should not face artificial restrictions like bans on new homes in desirable areas near well paying jobs.
Condescension toward people who don't fall into that category is what isn't my cup of tea.
Hell even the California countryside is like this, once you get far enough away from the big cities
This is the key statement.
Build more SFH suburbs, gonna take you longer and longer to get far away from those cities.
Denser cities make it easier to leave them for a short stint, too, because there's less sprawl.
Yes, it's probably a good idea to live outside a city for a while in your life. Though that's up to individual preferences.
I'm not quite sure whether it makes much sense one way or another to say that the US is 'still not very dense'.
In some literal sense, that is obviously true. In another sense, just because eg Russia has huge empty lands in Siberia bringing down the average density on a federal level, doesn't really make a difference to someone living in the suburbs of Moscow.
Similarly, if Russia lost Siberia tomorrow, the person in the Moscow suburb wouldn't experience density any different either.
I only chose Russia as an extreme case example. You can replace Siberia with Alaska or the flyover states, and Moscow and its suburbs with eg San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
After spending years in quite a few different places around the globe, I'm quite happy to live in Singapore these days, one of the premier global cities.
In the US it is sad that because of building restrictions so many people are excluded from its most productive cities; unnecessarily setting back the economy and thus the prosperity of the people. Including even of those people who wouldn't want to live in those most productive places.
This will be my koan for the day.
Singapore has a size of 728.6 km2, and a population of 5.7 million people. For a density of 8,400 people per km2. (That includes water reservoirs, military bases, an international airport, areas for heavy industry, nature reserves, garbage dumps, power stations, 1.5% of the world's crude oil refining capacity, a few semiconductor fabs, etc.)
There are 7.96 billion people on the planet. That means if you scale up Singapore at the same density, you'd need 952,000 km2 to fit everyone.
Texas has a size of 696,000 km2. So our mega-Singapore would need about 1.37 Texases of area.
That's pretty close to your number.
Wikipedia gives New York City's population density as 11,313.68/km2, but the borders for that calculation will by necessity be drawn a bit arbitrarily. And I assume that doesn't include as much of the support infrastructure as Singapore does.
You're absolutely correct that there's heaps of wilderness in the USA, but the more SFH there is, the more sprawl that is required, which means that that wilderness is further and further away.
I'd rather get to the wilderness faster and not have to drive through hours and hours of sprawling SFH suburbs.
What people really want is their work, stores, school of choice within walking/biking distance, which is harder to accomplish.
By the time I graduated college all of the empty fields and forests where I had roamed as a teenager were now developments.
I also wonder what sorts of distances people think of as "far" in this thread. I've lived in both suburbs and in NYC. It's easy to walk a mile in the city without realizing it, whereas that is sometimes unthinkable to suburban folks. But if I walk a mile from my house I hit: woods, trails, the downtown area, the train station (to NYC), a school, fields, and etc.
At least in the U.S. - think it matters quite a bit where you are. Lots of areas in South and West were developed entirely around car use whereas suburbs in the Northeast can be quite tightly packed.
The main downside is often the houses are packed in such a way that there's no path without going through someone's yard.
In my mind, this is another the under-rated aspects of parts of NYC - grids. Simplify the process of walking, judging distance, knowing where you are.
* The choice of city is due to personal experience, but I doubt it's unusual - e.g. I'm pretty sure it's exactly the same in/around Miami.
Everybody just biked from place to place and spent like 18 hours a day outside of the house, playing basketball, duplicating cassette tapes and making music in various garages.
The US suburbs are now generally so bike-unfriendly. Big and dangerous cars dominate. Speeds in residential areas are high, so dangerous to play in the streets. The suburbs you grew up in are no longer the same.
What happened? Why did you all stop biking around and got a car instead?
No different than when I was growing up. Don't play in the street unless it's a quiet part (cul-de-sac's are great), or block it off with stuff you can move when cars come by.
I had great memories of living in the suburbs. I would rarely be indoors and had half a dozen friends within a minute or two bike ride. We'd hang out in parks, in front of people's houses, spend our quarters at the store buying snacks, doing kid stuff.
Just how many cars do you think are zipping around in a suburban neighborhood at any given time? The roads in a neighborhood are empty most of the time. I find it rich that people talking up the benefits of riding a bike in a big city would seem concerned about the safety of using a bike in a low density neighborhood.
> Speeds in residential areas are high
What? No they’re not. In any given neighborhood the speed limit usually tops out at 25mph.
And my point is that at some point, kids stopped biking everywhere. But it's the same people that used to bike around as kids now driving them everywhere. Hence my question: What happened?
The rise of structured activities. Now kids don't have free time, they go from school to soccer practice to a math tutor. Gotta have extracurriculars if you want to get into a good school.
What happened to a lot of activities kids used to do? They got replaced by ubiquitous internet-connected devices that allow them to watch any video or play any game at any time. They’d rather do that than play outside, and childhood obesity rates track well with these developments.
To put it another way, the neighborhood I grew up in 30+ years ago still exists, and the roads are the same size, the sidewalks are just as non-existent as they used to be, and there’s no more traffic than there used to be. But as you point out, sure there’s less kids out and about in the neighborhood when I was a kid.
But I would note two things about that. One, when I was a kid, there was much less inside that could occupy my time than there is today. And two, I’d argue that if you’re an adult who has to work all day during the summer, you may not be noticing how many kids are actually playing outside during the day.
If there were always 30 kids outside in your neighborhood to play with and you didn't need permission or help from the adults in your life, I really bet a lot more kids would be having a lot less screen time.
Kids use the devices because there is not much else they are allowed to do, and playing by yourself or a sibling you are sick of in your back yard gets boring quick for most.
Adults need to create an environment where there is something better, and that is the sad truth for most children.
I would have to agree with this.
I live in the same neighborhood I skateboarded in 35 years ago. Packs of us roamed the streets. We were all over and we got into all sorts of trouble.
Not only can't I remember the last time I saw a kid skateboarding around here, I can't remember the last time a saw a kid in the neighborhood doing anything outside without an adult present. I know there are still kids around because I get the property tax bill every year that's supposedly paying for schools, but kids don't roam the streets around here no more.
That world is gone. Which is good, because if there was a bunch of kids on skateboards fucking up the handrail on my front steps I would have to go try to run them off like the oldsters tried to do to us circa 1988.
The above is of course a generalization and thus there are exceptions all over. It is still fairly true though.
And paranoid, really?
This exists in a lot of the newer larger metros, places that have seen lots of growth in the last 10-15 years.
> Speeds in residential areas are high, so dangerous to play in the streets.
Speeds on trunk roads are ridiculous, but the streets with the actual houses on them are not the nightmare you describe.
Other parents hear it and it creates a huge chilling effect. As a result, there are no other kids outside to play with, so for the few parents willing to buck the trend, it doesn't matter anyway and helicopter soccer mom has to play chauefer and sign them up for a million structured activities and play dates so the kids don't go nuts inside their houses with not being allowed to do anything.
Sucked, it did. Tragic really. Almost child abuse, if you think about it.
I had to wait until adulthood to see a pile of festering trash taller than me sitting on the curb. Robbed!
Little to no green space, no riding your bikes down random streets until it’s get dark. No exposure to nature. Cramped in tiny $1M apartments immersed in the rat race.
It’s like San Mateo. The Main Street is more dense but very few choose to live there. It’s mostly endless single family homes.
Hell, I’d call a good part of SF “practically” suburban. Sunset is mostly block upon block of single family homes with maybe 1 corner store within a 10-15 min walk. Transit is easy on a narrow strip, otherwise you’re screwed without a car.
I personally don’t see much difference between that and what people rail against as suburbs.
I spent time in Singapore. Incredible transit system, carefully designed "Garden City" with plenty of outdoor areas, modern, efficient, affordable public housing.
And what did people aspire to? Single family homes, with their own yard and a car. What HN sees as "people are forced to live in the suburbs", is in reality, people just choosing what they like best.
Same in all the other countries I've lived in. Sure, 20-somethings love living in "hip" cities with "trendy" restaurants and "fun" bars to go and are willing to trade all that for tiny apartments. I don't deny that.
But a very substantial part of the population don't want that. They want space, quiet neighborhoods and are willing to have to drive to get that.
That is an obvious statement, but the analogy breaks down a bit as in Singapore, whether you live in a GCB or in HDB (social housing), everything is relatively close by regardless. Hence, there isn't really much of a trade-off at all - living in a GCB just affords more space and privacy (at an exponentially inflated cost).
There are townhomes (shophouses), duplexes, single family homes as options as well.
“To qualify as a GCB, the property must have at least 1,400 square metres (approx. 15,070 sq. ft.) of land area, and the bungalow itself is limited to a maximum of two storeys in height”
People in HDBs want to live in condo, condos want to live in shophouses, shophouses want to live in detached freehold homes.
Everybody wants more space. And despite the great transit system, parts of Singapore can be more remote to the point a car being almost a requirement. And that’s what many people strive for.
The point being we need to figure out how to not destroy nature while allowing people to live meaningful lives and the suburbs ain’t that.
The US has enough land to give every single person (man, woman, child - not household) almost 7 acres of land.
The idea that we need pack ourselves in to <1% of the land mass in dense urban cores or else, as you put it we can't live "meaningful lives" (do you decide what's meaningful?) or "destroying nature" is just wrong.
And the best part? We can afford it! We don't need the federal government backing "jumbo" leans for $1M apartments in San Francisco - instead they can back mortgages for 5 homes in the mid-West.
And this is a big shocker - a lot of it's already developed because we need places to grow food!
I know you're exaggerating for effect, but every degree that you spread people out means greater and greater investments in infrastructure and utilities you need to build and maintain, and some things we take for granted today just become infeasible.
And I agree that it's ridiculous to pay $1,000 per square foot (or more!) for housing in San Francisco. But that's not because of some sort of natural consequence of things, it's actually because it's not dense enough, and the political will to force more building just isn't there. Housing is so expensive here because, despite all the bad things about the city, despite the alleged COVID exodus, we still have far far more people who want to live here than the available housing can support.
I take you’ve never asked utilities the costs for hook ups? They are happy to give you a quote.
It’s sure not the taxpayers the next town over paying $50,000 for a sewer hookup.
Like sure the space exists (ignoring the fact that most of that land is inhospitable and/or already used for agriculture), but maybe we should leave something for the other species?
But hey, maybe your 7 acres is at the top of the Sierra and you can get some good fire insurance.
One thing I miss since moving to San Francisco from the UK is now I need a car to access nature. There was something very pleasant about taking a train to the edge of the city to go on a hike and ending up at a pub for a few beers before taking the train home again.
In Oslo in the winter you'd see people with cross country skis on the metro since the forest trails at the edge of town were easily accessible.
I live in the center of a 1M+ city and went for a 1.5 hour bush hike 15 minutes drive from my house.
When people talk about how wonderful it is to live in a dense, walkable city, they are thinking about all the nightclubs they can go to, the bars, the restaurants, art galleries, libraries, etc all within a few minute’s walk. But that’s not everyone’s vision of an ideal living environment.
Folks who move to a suburb want more stability, less noise, fewer people, more open space, nice lawns, a pool in the back yard, a deck to sit on in the summer while you watch the kids swim, etc. They don’t want a nightclub on every block. Even a convenience store would not be very well regarded (especially if it’s really a gas station that also sells candy bars; Japanese–style stores that are part of the owner’s house would actually fit much better).
I don’t know much about what folks living in very rural areas like, but some of my relatives who live in a quasi–rural area value the fact that nobody in the area mows their lawns. Instead the local farmers bring their tractors over once or twice a year to harvest the grass out of everyone’s back yards to make hay.
Sort of, but that's not all of it. I like that there's a corner store a half block away, and a small but well-stocked grocery two blocks away. There's a hardware store four blocks away. There's a park four blocks away, and another six blocks away. I can go for a six mile run without having to drive myself to a gym (and my partner can walk to her gym). My partner walks a couple blocks to get her nails done or hair cut. If I need to see my doctor, I walk 20 minutes to get there. Sure, I have to drive sometimes, but it's rare.
I wish there was a way to get the best of both worlds. I do have to drive to go on a hike or find a forest to wander around in. I don't feel safe cycling in many parts of my city. As I get older, I go to bars less and less, and nightclubs pretty much never. I cook at home more often. I get annoyed rather than smile knowingly if I hear a pair of happy-drunk people walking home from a bar at 2am on a Friday night when my windows are open and I'm trying to sleep. But damn, I love being able to walk everywhere to get normal everyday things done. I hate driving for simple things; it just adds so much overhead to everything.
Not trying to say dense urban living is objectively better, just trying to point out that "I like walkability" doesn't merely mean "I like bars and restaurants and clubs". I agree that my particular city might not be a great place for kids to grow up, though, frankly, I don't see many kids out and about on the occasion that I need to drive into a residential area of a suburb, so I feel like in general it's just not the same as when I was a kid in the suburbs.
But I personally feel trapped in a dense urban environment. Going out to restaurants and bars and shows are neat experiences, but they aren’t fulfilling for me never mind the enormous expense of it all. I would rather live where I have access to nature and visit the city for its attractions on a weekend when the mood strikes. I want a house that my wife and I own and can do projects in without worrying about the condo association rules or disrupting my neighbors. I want at least a little bit of yard so my elderly dog can lay in the grass off-leash. I want less crime, a saner politics, and a local government that isn’t so dysfunctional. I really think a little bit of space is good for the soul, but I also think the American model of suburbs can be improved to get more of the benefits of urban life.
it feels like the whole NIMBY/YIMBY dichotomy loses sight of the fact there are other development models besides midtown manhattan or the exurbs of tuscon.
Living in the city is great; access to museums, art, culture, food, and transit is tops.
Suburbs are more welcoming to kids in general because here we have more parks for kids than dogs. Here we don't have museums - but we don't miss them because we know from experience our kids can only stand being in one for about 10 minutes before they start doing that will get us kicked out if we don't leave first. A good portion of your art not kid friendly. Culture is everywhere, we don't get the "high culture" of the cities, but we have our own culture that works for us. We do a lot more cooking at home as we can't afford eating out as much, but I will grant when we do go out there is a lack of choices. All you really have that we would even use is much better transit.
It doesn't have to be that way. I'm told NYC is still welcoming to kids. Most cities though are not places where they have things for family.
As a kid, I loved going to the natural history museum and the science museum. There's plenty of museums that caters to kids and that are really great with kids (not sure in the US to be honest but at least that's true in Europe). Museums doesn't mean art only.
Likewise for theater plays, that's the kind of things that are only available in bigger cities but can be tons of fun with kids.
I went on a business trip to NY, and I immediately felt alive. The 'energy' of people even though you don't know any of them, seeing so many faces, late night hustle & bustle - all very invigorating.
Part of this is because we hover over kids and let them do less. I'm from middle America, and when my dad was a kid, he and his friends would bike 100 miles round trip and it was fine.
Village life you see in Europe is a world apart.
I know plenty of people who grew up in NYC and have happy memories of childhood (and as an adult, I know several people raising kids in NYC, and they seem fine). I grew up in the suburbs and have happy memories of a lot of the things people are praising here. But my mom also took my sister and me on the 45-minute bus ride to the city a few times a year, and that was a different kind of adventure. Ditto for tagging along on my dad's business trips to Baltimore and DC.
Neither is better, neither is right or wrong. They're just different, and we establish many of our preferences and attitudes toward things based on our experiences as kids. That doesn't make those preferences correct or incorrect. It just makes them preferences.
If it's me, I'm authorizing all the 10-story buildings too. But we don't have to rip the band-aid off all at once; municipalities could start by letting up just a little bit and letting two households share a lot.
I live in the 14th floor of a 18-story building (4 apartments per floor), and next to me there are other ~20-story strictly residencial buildings. Life is amazing here, I have swimming pool, gym and sauna in the condo and it costs me next to nothing since the costs are shared between all residents. And it's never crowded. But the best part is that there's a positive side-effect: since I have everything at hand, I don't need to leave my home often and that made me switch to remote work full-time (the office started to seem boring).
It means, I'm living in a densely populated building and commuting less than I was when I lived in a smaller apartment complex.
I really think cities should consider this for their future: taller buildings with built-in amenities, ready for remote work. Make people want to live there and also don't want to commute. You get the density without the associated traffic congestion.
I have family in Europe too. They live in a 4 story townhome in a small German city with their own garage and driveway and front door very similar to American townhomes. It's the middle of town next to a three story American style mall built right into the town center near a castle tourist destination. But it's also so rural there's nothing if you drive even 10 minutes out of town. And there's nothing to do at night.
They also own a small piece of land nearby where my grandparents hang out all day and grow food. In essence it's not much different from an American lifestyle just with excellent walkability and a train direct to Berlin or Hamburg
The point is that you shouldn't need a car.
Enough better for transit is complex. It is a factor of cost, how nice it is, ability to get places when they want to, traffic, and a few other factors. The denser the city the more likely it is that transit is better.
The first problem is that we don't need to frame this discussion as "cars vs no cars". I'm not advocating for getting rid of cars because that wouldn't make sense and would be wildly impractical. Instead, what is being advocated is not having car-first infrastructure.
The second problem is that this preference, like other "decisions" is done without complete information or a feedback loop besides a monthly payment and gas prices. You don't feel the weight of the maintenance and taxes that go to paying for new highway construction. You don't really experience climate change in a feedback mechanism. You also aren't presenting equivalent options. Would someone prefer to walk over to the neighborhood grocery store to get their groceries or drive 5 miles away to a big-box retailer? I bet if you actually polled people you'd get 90%+ preferring the former. Framing it as "I want a car" versus not having a car presents the person being asked a question which implies taking something away from them, which is bad practice.
The third problem is that people prefer to own cars because we intentionally design our cities such that owning a car is the only choice. There's no competition. But you can clearly see that this isn't society's actual preference, because walkable neighborhoods across the country built before cars were prevalent usually have higher property values than the suburbs in the same city. If there was a mechanism such that people could choose neighborhoods they'd vote for or buy medium-density mixed-use neighborhoods where they can have a car with street parking or in the garage behind their house for less frequent activities and then they'd walk to the local grocery store, let their kids walk themselves to school, etc.
Would they? Because I have actually had it both ways and I much prefer driving to a huge supermarket. Prices are lower, quality is better, selection is better.
> But you can clearly see that this isn't society's actual preference, because walkable neighborhoods across the country built before cars were prevalent usually have higher property values than the suburbs in the same city.
Per acre of land, sure, because you can cram in tons of apartments in the same area that one house would take up. That doesn’t mean more people actually prefer to live that way.
It is nice to be able to walk to school or church or whatnot, but when it comes to commercial retail, my experience is that suburban car-bound freeway mayhem is pretty fucking great. From my current suburban house in Texas I can reach almost any retail or commercial business I need within 5-15 minutes, and those are full size, full service retailers. Instead of a “neighborhood grocery store” that’s barely one step above a convenience store, I can go to H-E-B and get almost any kind of food I can imagine for extremely reasonable prices. Instead of a neighborhood hardware store I can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s. Either one. I used to live in an apartment in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, close to an actual supermarket (which kind of sucked), and even then I had nowhere close to the same access to retail. Maybe the biggest point in favor of walkable neighborhoods was that it was relatively cheap and easy to go to bars, but at some point I realized I could save money and drink with my wife at home (especially if we can drive to a cheap big-box liquor store!)
I do understand the appeal when it comes to things that are more community oriented than commercial. For instance, I understand that Orthodox Jews tend to live within walking distance of their synagogue because they can’t drive on the Sabbath, which means they live within walking distance of everyone else who goes to their synagogue, which means they can have physical communities. And that sounds really nice. But for the typical secularized, atomized American, what’s the point? Living cheek to jowl with total strangers and learning to ignore homeless people fucking sucked and I’m glad that part of my life is behind me. And the reason most of this country is built out the way it is, is that most people actually feel the same way.
You can see that this is true because when you visit an actual neighborhood there are lots of people walking around and bikes and greater levels of economic activity. I'm not sure what metro area you live in but if you live in one I bet you have an area like I'm describing. It's probably where you and your friends or significant other go out for a nice dinner. Most of the country could be like that and you could still drive your car to Costco once/week.
Even if you disagreed with some or all of the things I've said, dismissing them as an "invented problem" is pretty unfair.
In this case, the people who don’t want to own cars are the small minority. And I was one of those people for about a decade.
Life is amazing here. I exercise outside, explore the landscape and the hiking trails surrounding me, and not only is it never crowded, it’s also safe, quiet, and beautiful.
The best part is that since I have everything at hand, including natural beauty, I don’t want or need to leave my home often, and have worked remotely for a Bay Area company for several years.
I often walk out my front door and go for a hike before starting my work day.
Living in an 18-story building surrounded by 20-story buildings would be, for me, a hellish existence.
You couldn’t pay me enough money to want to live there.
Since I've grown in the countryside, surrounded by all the forests and hills, I really find the cosmopolitan life I've there more exciting.
It may change overtime, sure, but at least I will never have to complain about having lost my time commuting.
In theory? They can coexist. If you want density, move to a dense city.
In reality? Activists and developers are constantly pushing to upzone and pave over everything in sight.
You’re not taking school taxes and costs into consideration.
In my school district, they spend $18,211 per student each year. Average school taxes per house are $8,100.
So a house with 1 child costs $10,111 per year. But the average house with children has 2.1 kids costing over $30,000 more than is paid in.
This is a very common problem and why development, especially of larger homes (with likely more children) is a net drain on the local tax base.
True, but doesn't seem relevant to the discussion. GP said homes pay as much in taxes as they receive in services.
I disputed that by pointing out that even with very large homes, the people in the home receive far more educational services than their taxes pay for.
Your response to that is to say children need education?
That somehow is because they tax people that don't have kids in school. In fact, municipalities can nudge this.
Approve a 55+ community and it will give the community a net tax benefit. Same thing with a condo community. But approve a plan for a community of single family homes with 4+ bedrooms and you will have a huge drain on the tax base literally forever.
A neighbour gym would also be crowded all the time, all my friends that have to go out for the gym always complain about that.
The public sauna seems ok, but I've never seem any of that in the streets besides "erotic saunas" that are not really intended for the same purposes...
It is as hygienic as any other swimming pool. Unless you literally have your own pool in your backyard, which overwhelming majority of swimmers dont, you are not getting more hygiene.
> A neighbour gym would also be crowded all the time, all my friends that have to go out for the gym always complain about that.
This may depend on locality, but fair solution to that is allowing simple capitalism and more businesses. Someone gonna build second gym.
(Former) private pool owner here. I'd bet most public neighborhood pools are much more hygienic than a private pool where we'd only test the water when algae started growing. Public pools have proper maintenance and much better systems for chlorination/salt cleaning.
Meeting other people might be scary at first. But ultimately sharing is caring.
The progressive position in the 90s was anti-gentrification, anti-greedy rent-seeking developers; “the evil developer” was a common trope in pop-culture.
Now? Dust off your ceremonial hard hat and golden ground-breaking shovel, because apparently, facilitating a massive and permanent wealth transfer to those same greedy developers is now progressive orthodoxy.
Density proponents are just unpaid lobbyists.
I don’t know about America but in Germany apartment buildings are often owned by the residents and they have to work together in a financial collective for certain things like roof repairs, city negotiations, fencing, etc. But then internally to their unit they are able to make many permanent alterations within limits.
I don’t list these constraints claiming them as benefits. No these are the hardships one must endure but the benefit is of course property ownership. The benefits of property ownership in general are well known, it’s primarily a matter of accessibility to those benefits that is being discussed.
I do think we should encourage individual home ownership, even in dense developments. And would have no problem with legal nudges towards this. I.e. upzoned for density only if units which will ultimately be individually owned.
Furthermore, in the majority of desirable areas, creating high-density, individually-owned homes would increase access to home ownership, as the unit economics would allow lower pricing than equivalent single family homes in the same location.
(And before someone pulls out the construction cost economics / high-price-only rebuttal, that's yet another topic, with a different set of fixes)
Some of the most desirable and expensive neighborhoods in the world are also some of the densest. NYC’s Upper East Side, for example, is it’s most densely populated.
Speaking only for myself - and yes, I am keenly aware of the injustices many groups have faced here over the years - at least some of the American dream was to create an environment for both of us to share these mutually exclusive stances in harmony. I am grateful for the ability of some percentage of Americans to have more space between their neighbors than simply one wall, even if that percentage is much smaller than it ought to be. And I grow increasingly resentful of the mechanisms both internal and external that keep that number so small.
Millenials moving back in with their parents because there isnt enough housing is the true introvert nightmare playing out right now tbh.
I cannot understand why cities in the US are built the way they are.
I live in a relatively big city in Germany in a somewhat dense neighborhood (most buildings have 3-5 stories). I have two grocery stores within five minutes of walking, a great Italian restaurant around the corner. If I want to go to the city center it is a ten minute train ride, going to the lake is a 12 minute ride. I can quickly get around the city center by using the subway and all of this for a fraction of the cost of owning a car.
I grew up in a more rural area and personally, living in a denser cities feels more "luxurious" than living in a town where I can't get anywhere if I don't drive. The cities are still far from perfect, but this is mostly because they desperately try to accomodate the car obsessed public (but not as desperately as American cities)
I grew up in the suburbs and felt *trapped* until I was able to drive. Legitimately didn't feel like I could be independent.
This is most people's experience, whether they realize it or not. I only became aware of what car-less life could be like when I lived in Chicago (the city, not the burbs). Even then it took me a year to realize how convenient everything was because I could mostly walk or bike to what I wanted.
IMO - the resistance to developing density in the US is because people associate independence with the automobile; and it's a very, very deep association. I don't think people understand that density can actually make you more independent because they haven't really experienced it.
And to be clear I don't want to ban cars. More so, just want to see our country have more options for actual cities other than NYC and Chicago.
I don't think banning cars would even solve the issue. Cars are legitimately a good option for many people. But governments many governments want to pretend cars are a good option for anyone, which is just not true. Transportation modes should be treated equal, depending on the starting position this would necessitate taking back space dedicated to cars.
I did an exchange to a rural village in Germany, and anything other than going to a party at someone's house in the village involved convincing (or bribing) one of the 18 year olds they knew from two years previous at the Realschule, so the most common evening event was drinking beer (or Diesel which was half beer, half cola) with friends.
This place was not even remotely rural by USA standards, being maybe 20 kilometers from the state capital, and even closer to another city.
This has been my experience growing up as well with the only difference that we had a somewhat decent train connection to the next bigger town (30 min train ride, but last train departured at 10 PM). Anything that was out of the (small) village required either an expensive (and unreliable) Taxi ride or someone who loosed out and became the dedicated driver.
Many people apparently disagree. Why try to "rebrand" it for them? I have grown up in Moscow, lived in Yaletown in Vancouver BC, Richmond BC, Bellevue WA, and in SOMA in SF (all slightly different types of walkable, dense places), and I hated suburbs. Then I moved into suburbs and realized they are so much better! I wish I'd moved earlier, and to suburbier suburbs instead of the still-walkable ones that I have chosen. I've lived in dense neighborhoods for 34 years and now I don't think they have any advantages for me, other than perhaps it's more convenient to be drunk, and it's more convenient to be a kid who cannot drive.
Oh and yeah, mixed income. I've heard quite a few middle class and higher immigrants say that one major advantage of the US compared to <their home country> is that you can move away from poor people. In Russia/Mexico/... the poor are fellow Russians/Mexicans/..., so it's not based on race either. I grew up surrounded by "mixed income" (well to be fair we were lower middle class if that, ourselves). Thanks but no thanks. I'd rather live in the cheapest house on the best street :)
I used to buy groceries by bike or on a walk from the bus every 2-3 days, turns out buying a bunch of groceries every week or two is much more convenient.
It's much quieter and somewhat safer (could be safer yet if I moved further away from town). One of my apartments was on a busy street and it's kinda funny how I notice a single car rolling by now when I used to have to tune out constant hum of traffic, sirens and honks.
There is much more greenery, birds (from hummingbirds to eagles), trees, animals even. My friends who live in a really distant suburb had a bear in their backyard once, I guess that could be a disadvantage :) More space for the same amount of money (that actually translates into even less need for density - e.g. I have a squat rack at home now so I don't need to go to the gym).
One hassle is that if I go somewhere to drink I need to take an uber. Also house is more pain to maintain than a flat, that actually does kinda suck, I am particularly averse to that kind of stuff... I wish there were condos in suburban areas, or e.g. some company where you pay a fee like a HOA and they have to keep track and do all the maintenance :)
It just means all classes share the same problems equally (emphasis on equally)
The history of my youth in the city is knowing practically a trail of dead friends lost to drugs, abuse, murder and suicide. And I went to private school.
When I was in middle school some kids I knew at the school behind mine made national news for murdering a guy in Central Park. During the OJ Trial.
IMO anyone who raises a kid in an environment like I grew up in is insanely wreckless.
Same goes for drug overdose rates (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mor...), for which the state wide rate is skewed by more rural northern parts.
I spent a large part of my time in the more dangerous areas of NY (Jamaica, Bushwick in early 2000s, Harlem) and never felt really unsafe.
I was specifically referring to those described dense mixed-income neighborhoods where every classes's tragedies end up being spread equally. If you have means ans you raise your children in one of these environments, you're stupid.
I somewhat agree, it’s a delight for the wealthy or middle class. But the lower class often have a much more negative view (having come from said lower class). The reality, is the upper and middle class dominate in politics and try to do things that are the opposite of “good”. Take for example, “cheap housing for everyone”. Nah.. they want the opportunity to own a nice house, not a hand out. Frankly, you’d be right, if I had any faith the upper class wouldn’t have a god complex to try and “make things better”.
The junior high, however, drew from a larger geographic area so it was far more diverse. Junior high is always a bit of a culture shock, but I can't help but feel it was more-so for us. A white kid got suspended for bringing in a hunting knife because he was afraid one of the black kids was going to beat him up -- kind of a mini racism-in-action lesson for all of us, though we didn't know it at the time.
Now my daughter just finished seventh grade. Her elementary school cohort had one Spanish-speaking kid, in a district that is 59% Hispanic and 18% English language learners, and had a bit of a similar culture shock. I checked if I could have done better in retrospect, and found that, while I could have done slightly better, the public schools were all either over 75% Hispanic or over 80% non-Hispanic, with the one exception being a school that required a lottery to get into.
The only real diverse schools I found were the parochial schools, which are a strange combination of your traditional Hispanic Catholics, and "white flight" of kids at schools that were nearly entirely Hispanic.
Then again maybe that was just my neighborhood and no other densely populated area has ever dealt with such things.
(Homelessness is caused by most of the old cheap forms of housing like SROs/boarding houses being made illegal, causing locals to fall out of the system when they can't afford the nicer types - this is why you see it in cities and not in, say, West Virginia.)
Give your typical SF homeless a home, and they will rip the sink out the next day to raise enough money for more drugs.
It is not always lack of housing. Sometimes it is, very often it is not.
Homelessness in the US does not correlate with drug use, or else the homeless would be in Appalachia with meth and opioid users. It's in SF because housing is expensive there. And they're locals. Now, they might be getting into drugs, but that's because there's nothing better to do when you're homeless and the police keep taking your stuff.
NYC does better because they build more shelters, but more importantly because New Jersey is next to them and is good at building affordable housing to make up for New York's NIMBYism.
 Santa Cruz also has a big homeless problem, and they aren't locals - but they're not druggies either, they're literally university students. The city just hates that it has a UC and refuses to build student housing for it.
That's quite a generalization and simplication of Santa Cruz situation.
A non-trivial percentage of UCSC students are homeless, yes.
That doesn't mean the homeless are literally all students, far from it. Most of them are well past university age and have no association with UCSC.
> The city just hates that it has a UC and refuses to build student housing for it.
Again it's complex. Santa Cruz is a very small slice of land between the ocean and unbuildable steep mountains (a lot of it protected forest land, state parks and so on). It can't expand to the north nor to the south.
The only direction to build is east (towards Watsonville) but transportation there and back is a huge problem so building to the east without addressing transportation won't solve anything.
UCSC itself isn't helping, since they keep driving aggressive student population growths without any regard to where any of them are going to be able to live.
What SF does have is very expensive housing, which directly causes homelessness. And homelessness also leads to addiction and mental illness, due to the extreme situation of not having a home.
And if the first-principles logical argument doesn't convince, go look at the data. Every $100 increase in average rent is associated with an increase in homelessness.
This is completely illogical. The upper east side side and Beverley Hills have very expensive housing which hasn't 'directly caused homelessness'. SF is a tiny densely populated 49 sq mile peninsula with people like politician Nancy Pelosi owning vast hill top homes they rarely visit and an ultra permissive approach to drug use in some districts which has resulted in a catastrophic influx of addicts who have often also developed serious mental illnesses.
You can be sure there are no tent/RV encampments outside the Pelosi's or other wealthy estates yet those same people are selling completely unrealistic YIYBY utopianism, which is cruel and wildly impractical.
People don't become homeless because they can't afford the most expensive homes, they become homeless because the least expensive homes are still priced too high. This is not a hard concept to understand.
When I say "SF has expensive housing" I'm not talking about mansions, I'm talking about the crappiest, worst possible studio or bedroom under a staircase being rented for exorbitant amounts of money.
It's a factor but not a fundamental as I previously said. SF has always had a large transient population - great climate, dumpster diving, permissive culture - which has now exploded due to the Fentanyl & meth disaster. There are lots of generational blue collar renter families really struggling to survive in the bay area and an acute shortage of housing primarily due to tech and over capacity of residents until recently.
What we now have is a mass exodus of tax paying residents and a huge influx of non contributing drug and smi casualties which is really tarting to hurt the tourism that pays the blue collar families rent via their jobs.
You and he agree 100% on building new apartments, Preston hates them, and as a rich man living in a very expensive single family home in one of the most expensive cities in the world, he fits right into the NIMBY mould.
However, Preston also believes that homeless people should still be treated like people, a position he shares with YIMBYs. Due to that commonality, but also having irrational hate for YIMBYs, he is sometimes called anti-YIMBY rather than NIMBY.
He doesn’t even only block them in his backyard; they’ve ignored member deference to block one in Matt Haney’s district before.
The language he uses makes him a left-NIMBY, but that’s just what they look like in cities. Found in NYC too. In suburbs the same people switch to talking about property values and 50s rural neighborhood character.
I've been a month in WV. Huntington and Charleston are plagued by visible users, but not by homelessness. Even daily users there haven't been priced out yet.
You have the causality reversed; mental illness and drug addiction is caused by the stress and hopelessness of homelessness.
Ehh I think it has just a _little_ bit more to do with it than just “lack of housing.” If you think the only thing keeping the homeless guy who shits on the sidewalk and shoots up heroin in broad daylight from being a functioning member of society is a house, you are being quite naive.
San Francisco’s housing costs don’t help, but people waaaay underestimate just how much having a permissive attitude towards “the homeless lifestyle” (for lack of a better term) plays a part in attracting people who are incapable of living within the margins of society.
The crackheads on the street phenomena is an American thing, not a dense housing thing.
I'm a brit, that spent a year living in USA. That term, "bad neighbourhood", is a term that I learned refers to a predominantly black neighbourhood. I was told things like "Don't go past this road junction on foot, that's a bad neighbourhood". The neighbourhood in question looked exactly the neighbourhood I was standing in, but with black people.
Those are also the cheap areas, and black families tend to move there just because they are poor. Of course the gangs in the area thus can recruit young local black kids (not being a member of the local gang can be dangerous). It isn't racism though, it is just reality - one that is very hard to escape for black people.
There is racism in the US as well, a lot of the current problems are rooted in the historic racism.
Actually, I was standing on the street, not driving. This "bad neighbourhood" was 50 yards from where I was standing. If they wanted to rob people, they'd have found better pickings where I was standing than in the "bad neighbourhood".
I didn't have a car; we were visiting my sister-in-law. I'm accustomed to walking everywhere, unless I have an inter-city journey. The town was Charlottesville, VA, but I was told much the same when I settled (briefly) in Richmond, VA.
> Someone tells you it's bad, and all you notice is the color of people's skin.
What I noticed was what's obvious. In a majority-white city, the so-called bad neighbourhood had exclusively black people on the street. And I noticed, for example, that every time I drove to work, there was a car pulled over on the freeway, with two black guys lying face-down, with cops pointing guns at their heads. I never saw this with white guys. My drive to work was just 15 minutes, but I saw this daily.
Do they actually do block-by-block crime statistics in these places? Because what I find shocking is that the granularity of this "bad neighbourhood" thing appears to be the block.
Also, council housing wasn't all concentrated in one place; typically you'd get a block of council houses embedded in a neighbourhood, which might be poor or prosperous. Basically the load was spread around.
The neighbourhoods that I like least are where a large-scale greenfield estate was built on the outskirts of a town, far from the centre and the shops. These estates were typically under-equipped with pubs and shops (but they had schools).
We don't build council houses any more, since laws were introduced requiring councils to sell such houses to their tenants at a discount. The closest thing now is housing coops, which buy and do-up individual houses. Coops don't build estates.
Ah yes, let's make sure to put all the new poors who want to move in with all the existing poors. Can't let them live anywhere else, or they might start getting ideas.
Do you really think this plan is equitable?
And hey, I honestly want all low density parts of the city densified. But it’s striking how big those houses are in that neighborhood and how low density it must be.
EDIT: I think what bothers me about this neighborhood is what it represents. While so many people in the city are struggling to get by, these people have these huge homes with elaborate finishing work, huge gardens, fountains, the works. It feels gratuitous to me. And if you know anything about the history of red lining in this country, this would have been one of those areas with racial covenants in the deeds to their homes. All the power brokers of the city past and present must have lived here, and all manner of political maneuvering and disenfranchisement would have come from this place. I’d rather see it torn down, and used to build affordable housing for those in need. I just can’t find myself sympathizing with people who feel they need this much for themselves while so many people struggle for the basic necessities. I wouldn’t mind if no one had that. It doesn’t seem justified to me.
EDIT2: Someone asked me what neighborhood so I looked on google maps (it's Sea Cliff) and was reminded that they also have THEIR OWN GOLF COURSE adjacent to this neighborhood. Yikes.
What I want is:
1. Anyone be able to build any type of housing anywhere.
2. Really steep land value taxes
I have no issue with a clique of hyper reach folk living in a low density neighborhood, as long as any of them is be able to defect and build a tower if they feel like it _and_ they all pay their LVT.
In terms of property tax, I thought there was some research that the best way to do that was actually irrespective of the development on top of it? I think the idea being that would encourage development because you’re not taxed on the improvements? Or maybe I’ve got it backwards.
I think it's close to “for 90% of people who pay property tax that would be a tax increase”; the people it will be a tax cut for are the people with relatively high improvement value on their land compared to the bare land value, like corporate HQs and landlords of high density apartment complexes.
I disagree with the 90% number for the LVT switch on multiple fronts: for starters all the people with historical discounts will pay more. Secondly, the typical SFH pays more and there is a lot of SFH in California.
LVT is still worth doing but making it actually happen is politically difficult in the best of states and California is the worst one due to Prop 13.
You seem to be ignoring that the presence of the corporate HQ raises land values across the entire city. Landlords of high density apartment complexes should be applauded for not wasting precious land in locations where many people want to live in, using land wastefully increases rental payments and causes homelessness.
But...California has a tiny overall property tax rate. A revenue neutral change to an LVT (unless it's revenue neutral on the far side of the Laffer Curve) might better meet some abstract concept of fairness better, but isn't going to have a meaningul impact on price of... anything.
There are ways to fix that too with gradual phase-ins, not allowing people to pass their tax assessment on to their heirs, etc. But anyone who stands to inherit property will vote against such a move, and most people who will be passing along that property will vote the same way.
Why is regressive property tax better than the progressive income tax?
If you also tax the improvements to the land, you discourage people from building denser housing on it, because the tax itself goes up the more you build.
I know people in Berkeley who own homes in neighborhoods where those kinds of covenants are still on the books, even though they're illegal and unenforceable. It's so weird, and disgusting.
Same with parking. In LA there is the popular Runyon Canyon. On weekends it's parking hell because so many people go there. Interestingly one block down there are some side streets with huge houses and (not surprisingly) street parking isn't allowed there.
Did a quick look via street view. There are some very nice houses indeed. I might even say it’s the perfect location: golf course, beach and huge park adjacent to the neighborhood. These people will probably not actually visit the beach nor the park as these seem to be public areas.
If art has meaning, these “works of art” represent oppression and selfishness.
The reason more housing doesn't get built is not because of this neighborhood.
Prop 13 that was passed in 1975 is not because of this neighborhood.
I get that you see the neighborhood as a symbol for something that angers you, but this is a nationwide problem where we do not build enough housing in general.
There's also the Presido Golf Course (on the grounds of the former Presidio), and a total of six in The City, AFAIU.
Hell, bulldoze Golden Gate Park in SF and build a ton of cheap housing there! Same with Central Park in NYC.
No more fun until more housing gets built.
I definitely agree that golf courses are inefficient uses of land, but even if we built mid-density housing on all of them here, it wouldn't solve the problem. There are plenty of other low-density areas that need to be upzoned if we're going to solve anything.
That's the case with a lot of the initiatives coming from wealthy people. Le'ts reduce carbon footprint but we still need private jets and multiple huge houses for ourselves. We need privacy but obviously we still need to mine our users' data for profit as much as possible. We need to do something about homelessness but certainly not close to where we are living. The free market is better than government as long as the government protects our IP so we can make profits.
There's ones like Marc that are pretty classical.
There's also ones that will push back on the kinds of property people can own, but fully support saturating an area with rentals.
I don't think there's a challenge for voters here either. As the author points out, the real problem is listening to community feedback at all. It's undemocratic. Someone else needs to be in charge of how to fulfill the demands of the community at a higher level.
In reality, the kind of density increases that would actually meaningfully lower their home's value is well beyond what is required or feasible. But most people aren't economists or real estate experts, and don't know or believe this.
? Never seen this before, elaborate
Specifically, apartments to be built in poor neighbourhoods exclusively next to busy highways, where the residents can enjoy chronic exposure to toxic gases, tire dust, and car honking sounds.
There are very few allowed to be built on quieter streets
You seem to say that in a negative tone? Isn't increasingly dense exactly what most housing advocates wish for?
I'm not really expressing a preference here, but in my comment noting that with the Grand Bargain it's not likely to result in the outcome of a broad amount of low density apartments, but rather the situation of extremes where you have ultra low density single family houses and then in slivers of downtown where apts are allowed, ultra tall 20+ story residential towers. This is commonly seen in Toronto and Vancouver.
If the city needs 10,000 new homes a year to keep up with population growth, and I support building 10 new blocks of 100 apartments downtown but oppose everything else, am I a hero or a villain?
Regardless: the guidelines ask you not to comment on voting.
Building more housing units would lower the price of housing units. The question is, within that, how should we approach it. I don’t think plopping randomly placed high-density buildings into low-density neighborhoods is optimal compared to planned development.
When cities ban apartments from entire neighbourhoods, they're banning people from living there. It ensures only the very wealthy can. This means people have to go somewhere else. This could mean longer commutes for the poor and worse living conditions.
There's nothing stopping someone who wants to have a SFH from buying a lot and building a SFH. The problem is when cities impose housing bans that limit people's ability to live in these communities.
Why doesn't Marc and his lovely wife just build a house far away from the plebs? They can't!
If you densify the wealthiest areas instead, people will complain that you're "just building more luxury housing for the rich" and not fixing the pricing problem. You just can't win!
(The simple truth, of course, is that both are good things to do. Every little bit helps.)
You make it sound like putting up with density is a chore.
Britain is a country noted for its class divides; and yet there are very few class enclaves in major British cities. Most people live in a mixed neighbourhood, with renters and owners all jumbled up, and with social housing mixed in. Sure, there are some pretty nasty social housing "estates" (groups of apartment blocks); but those estates are liberally sprinkled around - they occur in more prosperous neighbourhoods as well as cheaper places.
The USA used to claim it was a "classless society".
It's high quality public housing where classes mingle.
Two thirds of Vienna lives in public housing and the City of Vienna is the largest landlord in Europe. 
It is, probably on a related note, also the city with the highest quality of live in the world for as long as I can remember. 
Vienna is constantly building new Social housing and new people get in all the time.
To your grandfather point: A third of people living there weren't even born in Austria, so it's not really a generational thing like you misrepresent it to be https://www.diepresse.com/69243/migration-gemeindebau-ein-dr... (in German, use Google translate)
Good things can happen if we let them.
What do you mean by "taxing liquidity", i don't even understand. Negative interest on bank deposits? It's already effectively there for about a generation.
There is absolutely not.