If’ you’ve never been to Monterey County, Pebble Beach is an extremely wealthy little enclave on the peninsula, located between Pacific Grove and Carmel. It’s a gated community, dense with forest, golf courses and millionaires. It happens to be one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country. In case you’re wondering, I don’t live there and I have no interest in living there. I like my farm house.
Lower income people do not live in Pebble Beach. In the unusual context of Pebble Beach, lower income means everyone from upper middle class on down to people on welfare. They simply can’t. It’s out of their price range. Basic economics. However, in California, some years ago, our genius politicians (who are anything but genius) decided to create something called affordable housing.
In a nutshell, affordable housing means people who buy market-rate houses are forced to subsidize houses for poor people. This idiocy takes various guises. A common manifestation is when a planned subdivision goes to the Planning Department and secures the permit to build, the builder is forced to agree to build X amount of subsidized units. This causes him to jack up the price of the market-rate (normal) units. The extra money then subsidizes the so-called affordable housing units in the subdivision so that they can then be sold at a cheaper price to poor people.
In addition to being legalized theft (confiscation of Peter’s money to give it to Paul), this is social engineering of the worst and most addled kind. The California government uses this law to force people of different social classes to live in the same neighborhood.
“How sweet,” you say, without thinking through the implications of liberty and private property. No, not exactly. This sort of thing is an affront and a bastardization of freedom. While I have nothing against a poor family living next to a wealthy family, it should not come as the result of the government forcing them to do so.
Back to Pebble Beach. The Pebble Beach company is currently planning on building some new homes. Good on them, you say; carpenters and plumbers and electricians need the jobs. The government needs the sales tax. Yes on all that. However, the Monterey County government, in all of its infinite lack of wisdom, is making moves to force the company to build affordable housing units as well. You can read the article here in the Monterey Herald. As usual, the leftist do-gooders are agitating and proclaiming how other people should be spending their own money.
I am not an elitist, and this is not an elitist issue. It’s an issue of freedom and private property rights, neither of which are in big supply these days in California.
What’s next? Shall the swanky restaurants in Carmel be forced to start subsidizing expensive meals for poor people?
As you might have guessed, I am somewhat irritated today.