There’s no place like home. A home doesn’t just provide shelter from the elements, it is also a soul-salvaging sanctuary to escape from the stresses of life — a spot on the planet that is your own, where you can be your liberated self.
There is general consensus that one’s home is sacrosanct, and that trespass is not only unlawful but also a grievous violation of a fundamental personal right. A home is of such paramount importance that its security and protection are addressed in the founding laws of our nation.
Our concept of home expands outward to include, neighborhood, town, state and nation. Whatever affects any of those outer rings eventually affects the very center — your home. None of those rings has more immediate impact than the neighborhood.
There are certain expectations, sometimes firmed up with written covenants, but more often maintained by a comity among neighbors, that foster a desired ambience of a neighborhood.
Local zoning and building ordinances assure that ambience. People buy or rent homes in particular neighborhoods because of that ambience — often paying a premium for it.
The fundamental right to secure enjoyment of home and neighborhood is under attack in California by a barrage of state legislation that tramples over local zoning and building ordinances to force communities to allow more housing and to increase density, even in existing neighborhoods.
State Senate Bill 9 and SB 10, currently moving forward in the Legislature, are the latest and most brutal onslaught against neighborhoods and towns. These ham-fisted attempts to provide enough housing for everyone who wants to live in California can transmogrify existing neighborhoods into crowded, cheek-to-jowl, favelas.
Even if your home is in a single-family neighborhood, your next-door neighbors would be allowed to build up to eight units of housing, right up close to your property line, and without providing off-street parking.
Did you have a view? Oh, too bad. Imagine what becomes of your quiet, uncrowded neighborhood. Imagine the lines of cars parked up and down your street every day.
There can be no greater trespass than confiscation. What the state’s myopic, misguided politicians are attempting to pull off with this invasive legislation is just that — effectively confiscating neighborhoods and communities.
If you chose to reside in a neighborhood of single-family homes, the state can take that away from you. If you chose to reside in a small town, the state can take that away from you.
The state is mandating the number of housing units each county must add by the year 2031. The allocation for the city of Santa Barbara is 9,435 units by that date.
According to the Census Bureau, the average persons-per-household for Santa Barbara is 2.41. So, 9,435 units of new housing could increase the city’s population by 22,738, a 25% increase.
And, if more people want to live in California, expect additional mandates.
Are there nearly 23,000 homeless people in Santa Barbara just waiting around for more housing to be built? No, these numbers represent mostly nonresidents or anticipated residents — you know, “build it and they will come.”
Why do people who are not residents of a community, but might want to be, have greater priority and superior rights than those who are? What is the rational and moral justification for destroying the hometowns and neighborhoods of existing residents to provide homes for would-be residents?
Yes, until the irresponsible over-breeding of human population stops — and it is slowing down — people have to live somewhere.
But it doesn’t have to be in places already exceeding carrying capacity, or that will be altered awfully by more population. It doesn’t have to require forcing people to essentially lose their neighborhoods and communities. There are other places to live.
In America, the answers to many questions are often found by following the money. Who benefits by packing ever more people into California?
Most prominently, the forces of greed whose insatiable market-based economic model demands constant growth to feed it. Many of our state and local politicians are complicit in this feeding frenzy, either because of venality or because of well-intentioned but short-sighted politics.
The economics of perpetual growth must end sooner or later. There are finite resources — like water. Climate change is desiccating California with epic droughts drying up reservoirs and draining ancient aquifers.
Oh sure, California coastal communities can build desalination plants, but as we in Santa Barbara know, that desal water is very, very costly. If people struggle to pay rent here, high water bills won’t ease their struggle.
And that brings us to the delusion of affordable housing. By “affordable,” politicians and social justice advocates mean anyone who wants a home here should be able to have one. They foolishly expect that more supply will lower prices — just keep building more, higher, and fill every nook and cranny even if it means disregarding current residents and ravaging existing neighborhoods.
But if that worked, places like Manhattan would have some of the most affordable housing in the country.
Some places have demand so great that supply can never be adequate. Prices never come down because the housing is always affordable for someone. If it were not, homes would not sell and rentals would be vacant.
In Santa Barbara, rundown modest tract houses are selling for nearly $2 million — and selling quickly, often after multiple escalating offers. If politicians believe new housing will be less pricey, they are delusional or disingenuous.
Cramming more housing and population into our small towns and neighborhoods will only ruin them — forever.
Trying to accommodate everyone who wants live in a particular place results in no one really having that place ever again.
Some places are worth preserving. That is why we establish parks, preserves and historical districts — to prevent the ravages of human activity from destroying them.
Your neighborhoods and singularly beautiful places like Santa Barbara are on the verge of abolition by misguided, people-packing politicians.
If you are a current resident, either homeowner or renter, and you like where you live, you like your neighborhood, your town, your state, you need to push back against the people-packers in Sacramento and in your local community.
Contact your state senator, Assembly member and California’s chief people-packer, Gov. Gavin Newsom, and demand they reject Senate Bills 9 and 10.
— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.