More on builders vs. City Hall

Another front in the war described in today’s column is density.

New plans are calling for more people to live in less space. A county plan calls for doubling the average density of new developments. Single-family homes would decline from 90 percent of housing stock to about 58 percent.

Benefits include more walkable (hence closer-knit) neighborhoods, preservation of farmland and open space, and less vehicle pollution. This last benefit is also a legal requirement, and if the city doesn’t comply, it stands to lose state and federal dollars.

But the local building industry opposes densification, too. Building rep John Beckman calls this plan “fantasy.” He believes most people still want single-family homes.

Probably that is so. But there’s growing evidence that a changing segment of the homebuying public wants alternatives. To quote a recent Record story, “The shift is being driven by changing demographics. There’s a growing population of aging seniors who will be looking for smaller, more manageable housing, as well as a younger populace who also will seek smaller housing or can’t afford larger, detached homes.”

 A key question I didn’t drill down to is this: Is the local building industry looking to follow the market? Or to slice off the most lucrative part of the market, ignoring necessary housing alternatives?

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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