Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dr. Evil's Rowhouse

I don't really think developers are inherently evil. I think there are some evil standards such as those used by banks to push for more parking when its not needed. Developers like anyone else are out trying to make money and they follow a method that works. In the last 50 years or so, they know that sprawl works so they build it.

But I never understood why people complain about developers trying to line their pockets in every case where they don't like the building that is going up close to them. I guess its just classic nimbyism. Seems to me that by going to work everyday anyone is looking to line their pockets. So how come they are on a different level than the person complaining who tries to make money by doing a job. I'm sure anyone can cite examples of bad developers and there are always some bad eggs, but let's start trying to help them do the right thing by setting the standards that allow them to do better. Is that too much to ask?

8 comments:

arcady said...

Because of all the zoning codes and restrictions and so on, any major development is going to involve some close cooperation with the local government, sometimes inappropriately close. And then there are cases like Kelo vs. New London, where the government seizes land so that a developer can line their pockets at the expense of the people living on the land.

Cavan said...

well said. Developers are businesses. Businesses play by the rules that are given to them. They're trying to make a buck. It's up to us to pressure our elected officials to change zoning rules into a more sane version.

kenf said...

The problem comes up when the "evil" developers try to influence the politicians and political process to their advantage, most often to build something bad.

Where I live Maryland, a few years ago the developers mounted a campaign to get people elected to the county council who would build more roads, and widen others to enable highly profitable greenfield sprawl.

Alurin said...

@Kenf makes a salient point. Developers do not simply "play by the rules that are given to them". They help make the rules. This becomes apparent any time you try to change the rules (e.g., when California tried to limit development by the availability of water). Or, to put it another way, they play by the rules they want to play by.

theo said...

If people were acting in their own self interest, they would realize that new housing supply in their area will usually decrease the value of their house, provided they live somewhere desirable.

For instance in San Francisco, NIMBY policies are great for the older generation of residents and rich ex-hippies and terrible for younger people, renters, and immigrants.

But I can't argue that it's concern about their assets, because (1) losses are distributed and often unnoticeable to the average person, and (2) most people don't understand housing supply and demand at even the level of Econ 101. Witness: every article ever written in the SF Bay Guardian.

Anonymous said...

These are the kind of tricks that guys like O'Toole & Cox do. They complain about the government never mind that they benefit from anti-free market policy.

Matt Fisher said...

The developers kinda see it in terms of profits.

arcady said...

theo: the longtime residents do understand it at least at some level, given how tremendously successful they've been at increasing the value of their houses through restricting development (making the Bay Area the most expensive real estate market in the US) while protecting themselves from taxes (Prop 13 limits increases in property tax to a rate well below that of the appreciation of house prices). The clueless lefties reading the SFBG are just occasionally useful pawns in this massive game of rent-extraction.