But or Therefore?
By David Henderson
“Marin County has long resisted growth in the name of environmentalism. But high housing costs and segregation persist.”
So reads the title of a news story by Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times. The reporting is excellent. I hope Mr. Dillon didn’t choose the title.
Here are four key paragraphs:
Marin residents often win fights to keep the county’s landscape unspoiled by large, new construction. The county, which sits across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, is home to Point Reyes National Seashore and many other natural splendors.
But residents’ long-standing distaste for development hasn’t led just to the preservation of open spaces. In this affluent enclave of high real estate and rental costs, decades-old patterns of neighborhood segregation remain intact.
When a Los Angeles-based nonprofit examined demographic data on wealth, education, criminal justice and other issues, it found that Marin is home to the largest inequities between racial groups of any county in California. Disparities in homeownership rates and housing costs between whites and blacks and Latinos were a predominant factor leading to Marin’s ranking.
In recent years, Marin residents have blocked housing of all kinds. The 400-unit project that county supervisors rejected in December was the third in six years developers proposed on the site, where a former Baptist seminary now sits abandoned. Another stalled project would have built 224 homes for low-income seniors and families on land owned by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas. A failed effort to redevelop a run-down strip mall into 82 apartments primarily for low-income residents fueled the defeat of a county supervisor who backed it.
As reporter Dillon shows and clearly understands, it’s precisely because of the restrictions on building in Marin County that house prices and rents are so high and, therefore, that lower-income members of minorities have trouble affording housing in the more-affluent areas.