May 12, 2006

Congratulations to Salinas, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa!

The Least Affordable Place to Live? Try Salinas – New York Times
IN 2005, the least-affordable place in the country to live, measured by the percentage of income devoted to mortgage payments, was Salinas, Calif.

The second was the Santa Cruz-Watsonville area of California.

The third? Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif.

In fact, California has the distinction of having the 11 least-affordable metropolitan areas in the country. One would need to go all the way down to 12th place — and across the country to the New York region’s northern suburbs — to find a non-California metropolitan area on the least-affordable list of 2005.

Congratulations! And why is California so unaffordable? Is it because it’s the most special place on earth?

Another quintessentially California issue is Proposition 13, the 1978 measure that slashed property taxes by more than 50 percent and ignited a national property tax revolution.

The measure, which was supposed to facilitate home buying, has backfired to some extent; local governments prefer that land be used for retailing rather than housing because they collect more from sales taxes than from property taxes.

“Proposition 13 is a big stop sign saying ‘no housing needed,’ ” said Peter Dreier, professor of public policy at Occidental College in Los Angeles and an author of “Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century” (University Press of Kansas, 2001). “Every municipality is engaged in a bidding war for retail — they’re battling for Wal-Mart, to keep the libraries open.”

It is unlikely that will change, Professor Dreier and others say, calling Proposition 13 “the third rail of government — it’s untouchable.”

Maybe they can build dual purpose Best Buy’s – stores during the day, houses at night. Then, instead of having a Best Buy every 5 miles (East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale) – we could have one every block. Everyone wins!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am


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