Here's an article that appeared in the Everett Herald a few weeks ago about yet another misguided legislative attempt to solve the "housing crisis."
One of the bills Nathan Gorton is backing in the Legislature this year sounds like it makes too much sense to do anything but go down in flames.I suppose if people were robots programmed to live only in the closest available place to where they work, legislation to that effect would indeed "make sense." However, as some of us are aware, people do not necessarily live in close proximity to their workplace, even if they can. Even the richest man on the planet, who can clearly choose to live anywhere he wants prefers to live with a 5-mile stretch of overcrowded SR-520 between his home and office.
What he'd like to see passed is a measure that would require cities to do what it takes to build enough homes each year to cover the number of new jobs they're expected to create. ...he'd like communities to provide homes for their own work force because it would stick fewer cars on the freeway for the morning commute.
Housing is important to Gorton. He's the new executive officer for the Snohomish County Camano Association of Realtors based in Everett.Oh we're reaching a crisis point all right, but not for the reason that home salesman Mr. Gorton is implying. Home prices have experienced such a steep ascent not because of a lack of legislation, but because of fly-by-night lending and pyramid scheme psychology.
Gorton noted Friday that three years ago, the median price for a home in Snohomish County was $220,000. Now it's $356,000.
"If you're a homeowner, it's a great thing," he said. "But we think we almost reaching a crisis point."
Gorton said that from 1993 to 2000, King County added 237,000 jobs and 75,000 homes. Obviously, many of those workers had to look for a home somewhere else. There isn't a statistic handy, but conventional wisdom tells us that many of those workers bought a home in Snohomish County, where the prices are typically $50,000 less.Because there are simply no homes left from Seattle all the way to Bellingham. Right. Give me a break.
"That drives up housing prices outside King County and puts a lot of cars on the road," said Gorton, noting he's already hearing of Seattle workers who are buying homes in Whatcom County and making a very long commute each day.
That brings us back to House Bill 1726.Maybe it's just me, but Mr. Gorton's comments seem to have the same disingenuous feeling as the It's A Priority campaign—which incidentally is a project of the Washington Realtors, a group which Mr. Gorton is a member of. Hmm.
"It says if you're going to bring in a lot of jobs, let's do better with planning where you'll put those folks," Gorton said.
He thinks it will help keep home prices down and reduce freeway congestion, which he notes should make it a lot easier for businesses to recruit new employees. And you certainly don't need to be a business to want to reduce traffic and make it possible for people to buy homes.
P.S. (Check out the latest Google search results for It's A Priority. I love it.)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 02.26.2007)