This article looks at the barriers to dealing with California’s housing shortage and addressing climate change which are built into the existing regulations that govern development across the state. The history of planning and building codes is examined, showing that contrary to popular belief many of these rules were not implemented for health and safety reasons, but rather to boost property values by promoting economic and racial segregation. The article argues that the only way to deal with California’s current challenges is to start over with a new set of regulations that promote denser development at lower cost and steer the state away from building more automobile-dependent sprawl.
This article investigates the political processes and attitudes that have prevented San Francisco from adequately dealing with many of its challenges. It posits that the city is at risk of becoming a caricature of its former self if attitudes towards accepting and preparing for the future do not change as a chronic shortage of housing threatens to push many long-time residents out. The history of anti-development attitudes since the 1980s is reviewed, tracing the rebound from post-industrial decline to becoming a highly desirable residential location and the home to some of the world’s most innovative companies.