[FoRK] Housing bubble vs. what ifs / what could be

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Feb 18 11:15:17 PST 2009

It always seemed, for housing, like it was mostly an artificial market.  
Sure, having a building in downtown Manhattan is great for business.  
And sure, an apartment in a swanky area of San Francisco is worth a good 
bump, but $2M for a 2 bedroom apartment?  Anywhere?  Come on.  At a 
fraction of that rate, assuming freedom from onerous building codes, one 
could build a large building below and above ground to get many people 
close to a desirable location.

And there is so much unused land, even just in the US, that all of this 
artificial concentration is just a waste.  If all of that surplus value 
had been invested in super fast and super capacity mass transit, it 
would have been much better.  West Virginia to DC in 20 minutes.  
Central valley to SF/SJ in 35 min.  Etc.  All totally doable, but 
instead, 50 year old shacks with $30K of material on 1/8 acre in Palo 
Alto are "worth" $1M+.  Please. 

A better system might look like this: New communities are built on 
essentially free (i.e., uninflated) land with the government funding 
utility installation and schools, houses built competitively with 
factory components (Detroit or whatever), and each property ownership 
includes charge for their share of the mega-transit system.  Riding the 
system is free for the family / residents of the mortgage holder except 
for a yearly fixed fee.

Or, refine hyper-dense housing in a safe, non-depressing way.

The farm spiral skyscrapers for Manhattan are, potentially, an excellent 
idea.  Except for the falling cows.


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