Ignore the Cover, Read the Book

If you can get over the fact that the article appears on Socialist Worker OnLine an interview posted there today with local San Diego author Mike Davis is worth the read.

Davis’ central take on the fires: they are the product of rampant backcountry growth driven by developers looking for profits, governments looking for revenues and home buyers looking for the good life that is no longer affordable on the coast. But if you factored in the true cost of these houses — lay a fire surcharge on them equal to the cost of saving properties on land that otherwise would have been left to naturally burn every decade or ten–much of this development would not be cost-efficient. What we have here is the classic free-rider problem: those who want to build and live out in fire country want everyone else to pony up the true cost of protecting their homes.

Ultimately the only solution to San Diego’s sky-rocketing housing costs and unchecked rural expansion is to increase density in the city core. And that doesn’t mean building million dollar condos down town. It means building East Coast and Bay Area style highrises everywhere, from Clairemont to Normal Heights to Del Mar to University City and beyond. Such densities would also make expansion of mass transit for more efficacious, thereby killing two troublesome birds with one stone. Of course this is an utter heresy in San Diego, where everyman should be king of his 4.5b/3ba mini-estates replete with water wasting landscaping which extends right to the property’s edge. Where the wild brush begins.

Posted in Fires. 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Ignore the Cover, Read the Book”

  1. mlaiuppa Says:

    But they won’t build highrises everywhere. Because that lowers property values and our middle class (what’s left of it) and up won’t tolerate it. They’ll put them where they won’t get a fight from the community. They’ll put them where they can bully property owners into selling, or just wait them out until they can’t afford to fight anymore. They’ll eminent domain them away. It’s the lower classes, the working poor, that will lose the poor, little houses they’ve worked so hard to buy. And with property values rising as they are, they’ll never be able to afford a home again. (I’m one of them. I’m a teacher. On my salary I couldn’t afford to buy my own home. If it was taken and I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy another home. I wouldn’t qualify for a loan.)

    So….they start rezoning and leveling areas like….City Heights. The land is cheaper there than Del Mar, or Normal Heights or Clairemont. And the excuse will be that there’s already established mass transit lines there. It makes perfect sense to take people’s houses and increase the density ten fold.

    Never mind City Heights has a Community Plan strictly outlining building heights and design. Between the PAC and the Planning Committee exceptions have been made over and over and over. Pretty soon conforming to the Community Plan will be the exception instead of the rule. Too bad, since the Community Plan is one of the most democratic documents the city has, having had widespread community input and approval. But the community doesn’t get a chance to veto all of the highrises already violating the plan. Those are approved and exemptions are granted by the Area Planning Committee and Project Area Committee for Redevelopment. Wouldn’t really matter if anyone objected or it was voted down. Because the city planners downtown have already decided what they want to do with City Heights and they’ll make sure it happens.

    City Heights will become the City Dump.

  2. nunya Says:

    Oh. My. God. You said it, you really really said it. Yaaaaaaay! Public Transportation. Wheeeeeeeeee!

  3. mlaiuppa Says:

    Try to evacuate from a flood using public transportation.

    Try to evacuate from a fire using public transportation.

    Try to evacuate from an earthquake using public transportation.

    Try evacuating with your dog using public transportation.

    I’m keeping my Prius tank topped off.

  4. Firecliff Says:

    I don’t disagree with anything here, but we can’t ignore the fact that fire crews and equipment are sorely needed. The reports after the Ceder fire said that SD county will face another large fire and that without added firefighters and equipment we would be fighting an up hill battle, as we saw last month. If we ignore it, it won’t go away. We must convence our elected officials to act now to staff more fire trucks. Our lives depend on it.

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