Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Howard Roark, Foiled Again!

I found this really interesting, so I posted the link and added:
Nicholas, this is right in your area of interest. It sounds so nice in the article. Is it practical? Would it be applicable in America where we have a different attitude toward housing?

Nick responded:
Hmmm, I'm reading this right, these are essentially mid rise, middle density buildings that try to keep costs ultra low, and also be environmentally friendly. 

That sounds good but each part has different obstacles and varying degrees up importance. 

Take the idea of middle density units. These are very much needed in supply constrained urban regions, particularly the outer edges of the core. But of course most of these areas are zoned for single family homes or office spaces, and don't allow anything in this size. Unfortunately these zoning laws have a lot local protection and are very difficult to overcome--especially with all the brain dead thinking out there about the critical need of new housing stock. 

The cost of building isn't a bad idea but I don't think much of a problem. The cost of construction isn't really the problem, but rather the cost of land and regulations. Plus soon to be coming 3D printing will dramatically lower construction costs and speed.

Environmental stuff all sounds good too and I'm sure if we ever get our needed building boom, a lot of this kinda stuff will be incorporated. SF just mandated all new buildings must have solar panels for example.

I responded:
So, not such a bad idea, but a little hard to apply in the real world. I shouldn't be surprised. It seemed  like such a good idea though.

Later I added:
I can't help but recall news reports that when a Catholic charity group (Mother Theresa's?) tried to convert a decrepit high-rise in New York into a refuge for the homeless, they were unable to do so. What prevented it? It was too expensive for them to install elevators and if they renovated the building they were required to install elevators. So the homeless stayed on the streets.

In a similar case, when George Air Force Base closed, a California group tried to take over the base housing and use it for the homeless. They were not allowed to do so because state regulations wouldn't allow anyone to be housed in buildings which had asbestos content. 

There are two ironies here. Number one, this housing was considered adequate and safe even for the Colonel  commanding the base and his family.   Second, the asbestos in question was only dangerous if you broke open the walls and accessed the insulation.

The California regulation was not unreasonable. However, hundreds of the homeless could have been very comfortably housed and conditions which were safe as long as no one broke open the walls.  The question is, were the homeless better being left out on the streets and down by the river bed where they tend to collect here in the Victor Valley?

In the end the housing simply sat, and is still sitting, and is slowly rotting away.

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