The Metropolitan Forum Project Reviving Citizen Civic Engagement

What's the Answer to Affordability

The Mercury News

Aug10, 2002

For the past week, the Mercury News has explored the causes of something everyone knows: Housing here costs too much.

The problem is what to do about it. ``Smart growth'' is the experts' solution. Stop building huge new subdivisions, they say. Fill in downtowns with apartments and condos. Create city neighborhoods that encourage people to walk or take mass transit.

But it's not that easy -- especially in a land of coveted single-family houses, vintage Mustangs and countless miles of freeway that invite continuing sprawl.

The Mercury News asked five people involved in the housing issue to make their best case for change.

A politician argues that denser housing actually gives people the kind of neighborhoods they want.

A builder says it's time for Californians to drop their no-growth rhetoric and take care of their state's growing population.

An environmentalist warns that if the Bay Area doesn't stop sprawl it may spoil the qualities that attract highly skilled people and high-paying jobs to the region.

A planner offers a blueprint for how cities can redevelop aging office sites and shopping strips to include new housing.

And a county assessor argues that it's time to take a hard look at Proposition 13, a once-useful tax law that now pits older generations against their children.

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