Councilmembers’ approach to zoning, in their own words, part 2

Last month, City Council took up one of their first large zoning cases, a proposed apartment complex near Burnet Road. Many of them used the opportunity to expound not only on the case in question, but some of the principles behind their decision, and I duly blogged those takes. Zoning changes require 3 “readings” (i.e. 3 different votes). If there’s no disagreement, all 3 readings can happen on the same night. But in this case, there was disagreement, so they only passed the vote “on first reading,” and this last Thursday, revisited it. If you’re interested in the background and outcome of the decision, check out Liz Pagano’s take in the Austin Monitor. Me, though? I’m interested in hearing what the Council Members had to say about their approach to zoning.

District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo

Gallo here notes that the majority of Austin rents, neighborhood associations don’t always do a good job representing them, and it’s the responsibility of City Council to look out for all residents, not just the organized ones. Readers of this blog will be familiar with both the renting and neighborhood association ideas.

Here, Gallo gives her opinion that the reason why rents have risen in Austin is an imbalance of supply and demand, and suggests more housing supply is needed to stop price increases. This, again, is familiar territory on this blog.

District 3 Council Member Pio Rentería

CM Rentería, similar to CM Gallo, believes that raising supply will stabilize prices.

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar

Casar offers a number of ideas here. First, he discusses a “filtering up” mechanism, where, if new housing doesn’t get built, old (or “vintage”) housing can become more expensive, giving as an example housing his brother lives in in Los Angeles.

Another two ideas that Casar argues for are that: 1) building housing is in and of itself, a “community benefit.” 2) There is an additional “economic integration” community benefit to having some portion of that housing be mandated Affordable Housing.  Neither of these ideas are new to council. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to hear both of them in the same speech. Frequently, the “economic integration” argument appears on the side of somebody arguing against denser zoning. In this case, though, Casar appeared to be arguing for greater density as a mechanism for making more Affordable Housing economically viable for the developer.

Mayor Steve Adler

I publish this not because Adler offered much background on his approach to zoning here, but because of the previous rarity of seeing a Council Member ask a developer to consider greater density on a site.  (Sorry, I accidentally cut the video short; the developer said yes, he would consider it.)

District 2 Council Member Delia Garza

Garza offers two items of note: 1) delays in the development process add to the costs of housing, and 2) Austin is a high-demand city, and when there isn’t enough housing supply in richer areas, this adds to gentrification pressures in poorer areas.

District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair

Troxclair offers a bit of a procedural take, arguing that Council’s way of using zoning as a negotiation tool encourages parties to take extremist positions. She appears to have misspoke when she said she couldn’t support MF6; she voted, as she did in the previous reading, for the higher-density MF6 and against the lower-density zoning.

The Developer

Finally, we hear from the applicant, C.J. Sackman, the developer of the project. I’m including this testimony not because his views will have lasting impact on the Council the way that Council Members’ do, but because they’re broadly representative of developers’ views.

The Rest

CM Pool (District 7), CM Kitchen (District 5), and CM Houston (District 1) emphasized that, because there was disagreement between a neighborhood association objecting to the project and the developer and because the two hadn’t fully negotiated, they wanted to pass a lower zoning category on 2nd reading only, to pressure the two sides to negotiate. CM Zimmerman (District 6) thought there had been enough testimony, and moved for the decision to be made for the higher zoning category on 3rd reading. Mayor Pro Tem Tovo (District 9) voted with Pool, Kitchen, and Houston.  In her testimony, Tovo focused on whether the developer could have provided steeper discounts on the Affordable Housing apartments, to target a poorer population.

Councilmembers’ approach to zoning, in their own words, part 2

Real-time bus data can improve effective frequencies

In February, Capital Metro expanded the reach of real-time bus data from the 801 and 803 routes to the entire fleet. There have been a few pieces about the promise of real-time data: the piece of mind of knowing your bus is actually on its way, the ability to save wait time by only heading out to your stop at the last minute, the promise of real-time data to evaluate system performance. I’d like to add one more: improving practical frequencies.

As long-time readers know, one of my pet peeves is buses that run in the same direction, but pick up at slightly different locations. Two bus routes that each run 2x / hour and run together for some length could become one combined route running 4x / hour along that length if they picked up at the same location. In Austin, this is the case for the central transit corridor from downtown to UT / West Campus along the 1/3/5/19/801/803 bus routes.

Downtown, the problem I complained about in the linked piece has been resolved; almost all north-south bus routes through downtown are now running on the Guadalupe / Lavaca transit priority lanes. However, during SXSW, as I stayed in a short-term rental in between South Congress and South 1st, I had a less extreme version of the same effect. My location was halfway between the South 1st corridor, where the #10 bus ran and the South Congress corridor, where the #1 and #801 buses ran. In the pre-real-time data days, this would have meant that I would have had to choose between waiting for the 10, waiting for the 1, or waiting for the 801, all of which pick up at different stops.

With real-time data, I could just look at my free Transit app and see which bus was approaching next:

Transit App Screenshot
Transit App Screenshot

During morning rush hour from my rental to downtown, there were five buses per hour on the 801, two buses per hour on the 10, and two buses per hour on the 1. Prior to real time data, that equals five buses per hour, as I would have had to choose which stop I was going to wait at and would’ve chosen the one with the most buses. With the advent of real-time data, that equaled 9 buses per hour, as I could choose which stop actually had the next arriving bus. Obviously, this only applies in some locations. But where it does, it’s a major improvement!

Real-time bus data can improve effective frequencies

What Compact and Connected Means to Me

On March 23, I presented at the CNU Central Texas City Matters 20×20 panel on the subject of “Compact and Connected” and what that means to me. The format of the presentation called for a ton of pictures. This post is adapted from my presentation. Thanks to the great team at CNU for prompting me and pushing me to put this together.

To me, Compact and Connected means independence and an opportunity for personal growth. I’m rare in Austin as somebody who is eligible for a driver’s license but doesn’t have one. This is the story of how that came to be, and how much the places we live affect who we are.

I grew up in Newton, MA, a gorgeous but expensive Western suburb of Boston. My house, an 1890 Victorian, would fly through the historic landmark commission in Austin, but was typical of the city block I lived on. The place had many of the amenities that school-aged parents wanted: good schools, large lots with green lawns (9600sf), an acclaimed public library, and easy freeway access to downtown Boston.

My childhood home
My childhood home, c/o Google Maps.

Although all of our parents had moved there for the schools, to myself and my 15-year old friends, we as children were frequently bored. The first thing we wanted to do when we were old enough was get a driver’s license. To us, a driver’s license meant freedom. Freedom to see our friends on our own schedule, to go to restaurants, to go to parks, to go into Harvard Square and listen to street musicians. Freedom to explore our world.

For me, though, it was not meant to be. About the time I’d be going for my learner’s permit, I became ill. That meant two dramatic things that made a profound impact on my life for decades to come: 1) I was unable to learn to drive, and 2) I missed too much school to graduate in four years, and took a fifth year doing an alternative learn-from-home program.

During that fifth year, I felt the sense of deep isolation that car-oriented cities create. Newton was built centuries before the automobile, but the last trolley lines had been torn out decades before I was born and the city had been remade over the decades to accommodate cars. It would take me 3 hours to walk to one of my closest friends’ house and back.

Waaay too long walk to close friend and high school classmate's house.
Waaay too long walk to close friend and high school classmate’s house.

The closest grocery store was 35 minutes there and a lot longer than that walking back carrying groceries.

35+ minute walk to conventional grocery store.
35+ minute walk to conventional grocery store.

That acclaimed public library was 45 minute walk. The only commercial cluster near me didn’t offer much (pizza and a convenience store is all I remember) and closed early. Despite living in what truly was one of the most desired places in Boston, I literally couldn’t feed myself, couldn’t see old friends or make new ones, find any sort of job, or continue my education without being 100% dependent on my parents and their cars.

So, about two weeks after I graduated high school, I moved into the compact, connected community of North Cambridge. What do I mean by compact and connected? Compact: Instead of living in my parents’ 3,100sf home, I lived in a 500 sf studio apartment in a modest 24-unit corner complex.

The first apartment building I lived in.
The first apartment building I lived in.

What do I mean by compact? The houses along my new street were closer together, and multiple families shared a single house.

Houses neighboring my apartment building
Multifamily houses neighboring my apartment building.

And just as the distance between people’s homes was more compact, so too were the distances between my home and the places I needed to be. There was a grocery store 10 minutes walk from me.

10 minute walk to conventional grocery store.
10 minute walk to conventional grocery store.

There was a smaller grocery store with high-quality produce literally across the street.

Farm and Garden Center across Massachusetts Ave from my apartment building.
Farm and Garden Center across Massachusetts Ave from my apartment building.

While the public library was a bit more “compact” than Newton’s, it was literally 500 feet from my home, and I would stop by sometimes multiple times in a day.

463' walk to Cambridge branch public library.
463′ walk to Cambridge branch public library.

So, for me, compact meant the independence to be able to feed myself, take care of myself, and get an education. So, you might be asking, how does this apply to everybody else?  Not everybody finds themselves in a situation where they can’t drive. For them, does it matter whether you can get somewhere in 10 minutes on foot vs. 10 minutes in a car? If you drive, you already have the independence to take care of basic needs, even car-oriented places like Newton.

That’s where connected comes in! Newton and North Cambridge were both on public transportation routes. Here is a visual of places I could quickly reach on public transportation from my homes:

Area I could quickly travel on public transportation in Newton vs Cambridge.
Area I could quickly travel on public transportation in Newton vs Cambridge.

Cambridge’s density allowed for more frequent, better public transportation, that had a geographically broader reach than that in Newton. But that’s only a tiny portion of the story. Because Cambridge was built densely, with things closer together, that geographical reach translated into way more destinations. Here, for example, are the restaurants nearby each of my homes:

Restaurants nearby in Newton vs Cambridge
Restaurants nearby in Newton vs Cambridge

Note not only how many more there are in Cambridge, but the variety. By moving to Cambridge, I exposed myself to Tibetan, Bengali, and Nepalese food, to a little Japanese-oriented mall, and to specialty book stores. I got heavily involved in local political movements of all flavors, and heard dozens of languages spoken on the street. Perhaps most importantly, I was able to take night classes in Computer Science at a local college and find a starter job in the tech industry, without which I wouldn’t be employed as a computer programmer today.

I’m no longer the isolated kid I was, and I’m sure I could make a fine life for myself in the suburbs. But, for me, compact will always means independence, and connected will mean personal growth and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What Compact and Connected Means to Me

PDRD and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Zucker Report

The Zucker Report is an analysis of the city of Austin’s Planning and Development Department performed by consultancy Zucker Systems. The document is truly scathing. Highlighted on the very first page of the Executive Summary is this message:

Austin must decide if it really is serious this time. If so, some dramatic actions as outlined in this report will be necessary.It can’t be overstated how negative, almost exasperated, this report is.  Some flavor:

Continue reading “PDRD and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Zucker Report”

PDRD and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Zucker Report

If San Francisco is Austin’s future, most of us will live in Oakland

I had the honor and pleasure of traveling to the city that never builds, San Francisco, to speak to people from a truly wonderful organization, the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation. San Francisco is like a larger, older, more extreme version of Austin. Both cities have gorgeous natural environments and pleasant, mostly snow-free climates. Both have managed to catch economic lightning in a bottle and create a special environment in which businesses grow and create well-paying jobs, as well as large ecosystems of middle-class jobs that surround them. And both cities have become places that people move to from around their respective states, the country, and the world to start their careers, start families, and settle down.

Sadly, both have also failed completely to build housing needed in the central city to accommodate both their existing residents and those who want to move there. I got to see in person the frankly dystopian future that awaits for Austin if we continue down this path. My lessons learned:

It can get worse. Much worse.

A lot of people think Austin has seen an incomparable rise in prices and that prices can’t go much higher. This is wrong on both accounts. San Francisco’s prices are both much higher and rising much faster than Austin’s. When I told people in San Francisco how much a condo in my downtown complex recently sold for, their mouths were agape at how inexpensive it was and I’m fairly certain a few of them started searching “Austin jobs” on their phones before my talk was over. Most of my friends in the Bay Area have jobs in San Francisco and live in Oakland; living in San Francisco itself is out of reach.

Preventing Luxury-style Housing Doesn’t Prevent Luxury-style Prices

It is, to say the least, difficult to build in San Francisco. This proposed Transit-Oriented Development at a major BART station in the overwhelmingly popular and expensive Mission District, has been met with a list of demands from a large coalition of organizations that includes not only stopping all work on the project, but simply handing the land over to the protesters. Projects that make their way through most of the planning process are still often killed by the Board of Supervisors.

I stayed at a spare bedroom Airbnb near the project above. The place I stayed in was not only “not luxury” by Austin standards, it was frankly somewhat rundown. This is not atypical for the area. By Austin standards, San Francisco housing is simply not very up-to-date. Many units have split bathrooms, no central AC (or any heating at all), and flaking paint on the exteriors. And yet these flats cost not only more than anything in Austin, they cost almost as much as luxury housing in San Francisco does.

In an attempt to avoid San Francisco being “invaded” by wealthy tech workers, many have fought tooth-and-nail against the trappings of wealth: new housing, “Google buses” from SF to Silicon Valley worksites, etc. But doing so has completely failed to stem the tide of actual tech workers, who are perfectly willing to occupy formerly affordable housing at luxury housing prices.

Opposition to development is a tendency unsolved by particular improvements

Many Austin policy fights regarding creating more housing revolve around minimum parking regulations (e.g. ADUs/granny flats/back houses, microunits). Those opposed to reducing them argue that, given that this is Austin, there’s not enough good public transportation for people to live without cars, and thus new housing must be accompanied by new parking. San Francisco’s transit mode share is an order of magnitude higher than Austin’s, minimum parking regulations are much lower and there are even maximum parking regulations. And yet, as you can see above, new housing near transit is still fought against vigorously. So to the people who argue that in order to get new housing, we need transit or grocery stores or new sewer pipes or whatever first, I see no evidence that, absent any of those problems, opposition to new housing lessens. The way to get new housing is to get new housing. This doesn’t devalue the work for good transit: it’s just that creating good transit doesn’t magically transmute anti-development voices into pro-development ones, even those claiming lack of transit as the reason for opposing development.

opposition to development is a tendency that happens at all scales

The Mission District consists largely of attached buildings (that is, buildings whose side walls touch). This is not only on major streets, but in a full 2-dimensional grid. The density this achieves is frankly unimaginable in Austin. West Campus, Austin’s secret midrise district, is pretty low-density by Mission standards. And yet the exact same disagreements play out in the Mission as in low-density Austin neighborhoods, using almost the exact same words.

The same issues are happening in many places

San Francisco and Austin differ in particulars. San Francisco is more built out, more expensive, has better transit, worse development procedures, and different zoning rules. The Bay Area has to deal with problems arising from multiple jurisdictions in a way that Austin doesn’t. But even though the particulars of the disagreement differ, the parameters of the discussion are still largely the same. I am so heartened to see good folks working to improve their city in the Bay Area, because their ideas can carry over to us and our ideas can carry over to them.

If San Francisco is Austin’s future, most of us will live in Oakland

New Councilmembers’ Approach to Zoning, In Their Own Words

On the City Council meeting on Thursday, 2/12, we had our first major look at the approach that many of the new Councilmembers will take to zoning and land use policy in practice.  The Item that I believe gave us the most insight was a re-zoning case.  For background, check out the Austin Monitor story. The basic gist of this case is that the owners of an auto repair shop are retiring and want to sell their land to a developer to build apartments.  As this was the first major rezoning case to come before the Council, many of the Councilmembers took the opportunity to state their principles.  I present to you the Councilmembers’ own words (not in the order they spoke at Council):

Don Zimmerman

Zimmerman views his decision through a lens of competing property rights: that of the property owner to build as they see fit and an implicit contractual expectation of neighbors that the city will not rezone nearby land.  As the opponents didn’t frame their argument in property rights, he decided to vote with the applicants’ property rights. CM Zimmerman voted for the motion to signal support for the project.

Kathie Tovo

Kathie Tovo, generally more skeptical of new development during her first term, doesn’t speak directly to her approach, but asks questions related to whether development could still be profitable with less housing, as well as arguing that the developer should provide more larger (2 and 3+ bedroom units) units.  She also mentions “zoning is always discretionary,” pointing to a larger role for Council to play in deciding the details of what gets built and where. CM Tovo voted against the motion to signal support for the project.

Ora Houston

Similarly, Ora Houston asks questions regarding how many guaranteed Affordable Housing and accessible units the complex will have.  CM Houston voted against the motion to signal support for a larger complex.

Leslie Pool

Leslie Pool puts forward a theory of balancing the needs of current members of neighborhood associations and future (Millenial) residents.  She argues for a slower development process in which infrastructure gets built first, followed by more housing.  CM Pool voted against the motion to signal support for the project.

Sheri Gallo

Sheri Gallo expresses support for neighborhood voices in general, but says she doesn’t “understand the neighborhood thought process” on this particular case. She supports the larger complex in part because it is buffered from single-family homes, and because the housing is needed and desired by younger people. CM Gallo voted for the motion to signal support for the project.

Sabino Rentería

Very much like Gallo, Sabino Rentería expresses support for neighborhood voices in general, but also for density. He argues that there isn’t enough land to build single-family housing for all the people who need housing. He also adds a different line of reasoning, arguing that further density will lead to higher quality of place, via slowing traffic, increasing viability for restaurants and other retail and increasing “eyes on the street.”  Contra Gallo, he argues that housing creates the political support for more infrastructure. CM Rentería voted for the motion to signal support for the project.

Greg Casar

Greg Casar asked questions that indicated an interest in finding the way to make the market-rate housing most affordable, as well as asking whether, if this project wasn’t built, whether there would be other places to place similarly dense housing nearyby, arguing that “more people should have the right to live in that area.” CM Casar voted for the motion to signal support for the project.

Steve Adler

Adler expresses a lot of process concerns, arguing against ad hoc zoning cases like this one, in favor of more comprehensive citywide plans. Nevertheless, he argues that while these planning processes are going forward, we need to keep moving forward. He also makes a plea for compromise. Mayor Adler voted for the motion to signal support for the project.

Delia Garza, Ellen Troxclair, and Ann Kitchen

These three councilmembers didn’t offer enough comment on this case to get much insight into their approach to zoning.  CMs Garza and Troxclair voted for the motion to signal support for the project; CM Kitchen voted against.

New Councilmembers’ Approach to Zoning, In Their Own Words

The Pervasive, Pernicious Anti-Renter Hostility in Local Politics

As always, my examples are from Austin but probably apply more broadly.

A majority of Austin households rent, but Austin politics is dominated by the homeowner minority (myself included). There are tons of theories of why renters don’t participate more: renters are as a group younger and poorer than homeowners, and both of those demographics participate in politics less. Renters may move more often and therefore not have had time to develop connections to groups or candidates. But I want to suggest one more narrative: it is draining to participate in a system where people are frequently overtly hostile to you, believe your voice matters less or not at all, and far from being shamed for it, are celebrated.

The fact that renters are viewed as outsiders in politics is so plain to those who participate that it hardly seems to merit proof, but I’ll try to document a tiny sliver of it here.

I’ll start with a trivial example, something fairly easy to brush off. In a city planning session for Imagine Austin, I suggested the city needs to consider the effects of its policies on renters and not just homeowners, and the discussion leader (a city staff member) coded this as “inclusion of nontraditional residents, like renters”. I do believe his heart was in the right place, but as a renter at the time, I felt more unwelcome to know that because I was part of the renter majority, he saw me as an exotic and not just a neighbor. Similarly, from the statements of goals for the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, a private organization that nevertheless wields considerable power:

Again, this could even come off as endearing: they know that they have an issue with renters and want to overcome it. But it also sends a clear message to renters that this is not their organization. They are to be tolerated, even though...  And this is a neighborhood association in a neighborhood where the vast majority (~80%) of residents are renters! Okay, so not so bad. Well, after some people felt unwelcome by HPNA, they formed a more open neighborhood association, and that’s when the claws came out:

Tell us how you really feel, Betina! Okay, that’s just one person. This kind of hostility to the majority of your neighbors couldn’t be that widespread, could it? Well, widespread enough to make it into the campaign literature of a runoff candidate in renter-heavy District 4, Laura Pressley, who pointed out that her opponent had 0 “Years as a Property Tax Payer” (i.e. he is a renter, not a homeowner):

Okay, but Laura Pressley, even though she is on the Executive Committee of Austin Neighborhoods Council and earned enough votes to put her in the runoff, is completely crazy* also believes lots of stuff most people don’t and ultimately lost the election. Does this stuff matter? Well, it’s pretty much the official policy of ANC, one of Austin’s most powerful civic organizations. Here, from ANC’s official comments to the city on CodeNEXT, and why they took positions against welcoming new housing into core neighborhoods:

As we all know, unless you have enough wealth to invest in property, you can’t have emotions regarding the place you live, nor should your opinion matter. Am I being too harsh? No, not nearly harsh enough.

Let me set this next clip up. Austin has intensely detailed rules on “residential compatibility” outlining what a house may look like, what modifications can be made to it, etc. This is footage from the Residential Design & Compatibility Committee, an official committee of the city of Austin with “sovereign power” (i.e. final say) on whether to grant waivers to these rules. The man in front of this committee has sought to enclose his carport by installing a garage door. Under the rules, a house may not occupy more than a certain percentage of his lot (known as Floor Area Ratio or FAR). Garages count toward that space; carports do not. With the carport enclosed, he’d go over the allowed space, so he needs a waiver. He has presented a petition with 52 signatures from nearby neighbors of his. After some early trepidation from President of ANC and RDCC Commissioner Mary Ingle (actual quote: “I would hate for this to start a tsunami of garage doors appearing on carports”), the commissioners get around to discussing the letters of support:

Commissioner Lucy Katz: “If we have 52 people in the neighborhood who say that they’re okay with it, then it’s their neighborhood. They’re not renters. They’re owners.”

After some discussion, they get to counting the letters in favor.

Commissioner Karen McGraw: “I found about 40 in favor in the backup and they all say ‘resident'; they don’t say ‘property owner’. Some of them are likely to be–I mean, whether it matters or not–some of them are likely to be residents but possibly not property owners.”

The fact that Commissioners could be explicitly looking to identify whether the people who have chosen to make their voices heard are homeowners and thus worthy of mattering belies the idea that the fault lies entirely with the renters for not participating, rather than with the city for choosing to stifle or ignore that participation.

In a better world, even contemplating, hedged or not, the choice to deny a voice to some of your neighbors because they don’t own a home–whether they are renters by choice or financial necessity–would earn you an immediate rebuke and put you outside the pale of politics until you apologize. Back in our world,  it apparently puts you on a committee with sovereign power. And, in Mary Ingle’s case, it puts you as one of the few citizen voices selected to brief City Council during their policy deep dives.

So what does it matter?

In the scheme of an individual person’s life, probably not that much. This is not apartheid. Renters still live in most parts of the city; there are no separate “renter” water fountains. Most people who attend a meeting like this and get a bad feeling of being unwelcomed, shrug the city committee or the civic organization off as busybodies and find something else to get interested in. It’s not so much that they’re uninterested–within a month of establishing a more inclusive neighborhood association, Friends of Hyde Park had more members than the decades-old HPNA–it’s that they’re uninterested in putting up with the nonsense and hostility that they had to put up with in order to participate.

But the net effect of all these people getting interested in politics and then cycling out is a city whose policy is seriously skewed.  Powerful neighborhood associations dominated by the homeowner minority regularly try–and succeed–in limiting the creation of rental homes in their neighborhoods. This drives costs up and ultimately drives many people out of the city altogether. The most popular policy endorsed by the most candidates in the last election was a homestead exemption–a tax cut that specifically targets homeowners and not renters, and may end up being paid for by raising taxes that renters ultimately pay.

How do we fix it?

The politics of the last couple years have offered great hope in this area. I was very pleased to see Councilmember Delia Garza will request that any analysis of the homestead exemption take into account what effect it would have on renters. City-wide organizations arguing for welcoming all, homeowners and renters alike, have been formed in Austin: (AURA) and San Francisco (SFBARF). On the hyperlocal level, more inclusive neighborhood associations like Friends of Hyde Park have formed. I would encourage people struggling with the frustration of feeling like they are something apart from the old politics to not waste your time trying to join organizations that don’t want you and just go straight to those who do. If you aren’t welcome in the old politics, you are welcome in the new politics.

On the broader level, we need to push for a cultural shift in which it is no longer considered acceptable to discriminate against your neighbors because of their homeownership status. In which, even if you secretly harbor an animus towards those who rent, you know to keep it to yourself or else lose your position in the policymaking apparatus. And a future in which all may participate in city politics without anybody questioning where their down payment is.

* Laura Pressley has objected to my characterization of her above and advised me that I was “potentially committing libel”. What I wrote was obviously intended as an opinion, not a statement of fact. However, it was an uncharitable opinion and I have therefore replaced it.

The Pervasive, Pernicious Anti-Renter Hostility in Local Politics