I support Prop 46 (Housing Bonds), albeit with some reservations.
Housing is something I know a bit about; I have a graduate degree in a related field, and some of my earliest professional jobs related to housing laws and development here in California.
The reality is that housing as a good is one that serves a variety of purposes: as shelter, as well as an investment for homeowners and landlords. The kind of housing provided has profound effects on communities, as has been noted from the beginnings of the pro-tenement movements in the 19th century (can you imagine what housing must have been like for tenement housing to have been considered a step up?). The physical nature of has real effects on the social nature of a community, and the economic effects of housing costs have real effects on regional economies as well.
Generally, the government has promoted affordable housing in three ways:
1) Through finance reform – mortgages were five to seven years until FDR came along;
2) Through direct or indirect subsidy – I get an indirect subsidy of about $1,000 a month as a homeowner; other low(er) income homeowners get down payment assistance or below-market loans. Renters get direct subsidies (the old Section 8 certificate) or landlords who will limit their rent and rent the units to low-income households get subsidies in the form of grants, below-market financing, and tax credits which they can then resell.
3) By providing entitlements and infrastructure for housing, allowing more housing to be built, and driving down the cost of the ‘permitted lot’.
2) is a relatively inefficient way to make housing more affordable; it distorts the market, and leads to the overconsumption of housing (The tract homes built after WW2 were 1,100 – 1,250 s.f., with two bedrooms, one bath, and a carport. Entry-level detached housing today is 1,500 – 1,900 s.f. with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a garage). It also leads to the classic SkyBox policy of creating a class of wealthy providers of housing to low-income people through grants and direct subsidy, meaning that political connections suddenly become more valuable than competence.
Prop 46 provides $2.1 Billion for the state to use in subsidizing new affordable housing through a variety of programs targeting variously, farmworkers, low-income renters, veterans, and other targeted classes.
All of them need help. I first heard of Jill Stewart almost twenty years ago, when she wrote a brilliant four-part series in the L.A. Times on the housing crisis just brewing in Los Angeles. We see it today in homelessness (although it is only one factor in a complicated problem), overcrowding (where more than one family will rent an apartment because they simply can’t afford it otherwise), and displacement (as neighborhoods become unaffordable to one economic class, another moves in).
The reality is that in California, particularly coastal California where I live, the shortage of entitlements is one of the roots of the crisis. We expect 20% more people in the Los Angeles SMSA in the next ten years, and yet we will build substantially less housing.
Until we can find the political will to deal with this problem, the best we can do is to dribble out projects and house those few lucky enough to be housed in them.
I’m not thrilled, but I’m voting ”yes” on Proposition 46.


  1. Good. You posted on it. I have a few reservations on this one – there are some flaws to it. But the potential benefits just overwhelm it all for me. This is one of those cases where a flawed proposition is still an improvement over doing nothing.

  2. So what are your thoughts on bond issues. Isn’t this just taxation without representation? This particular bond is 30 years long. Many of the people who are going to have to pay this aren’t even born yet and have no say in how their money is spent. Sounds like tyranny to me.

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