Thursday assorted links


3. I didn't know there were Valley Girls in North Korea. Maybe Trump is right, that NK isn't so bad. They even have organic food. Lots of it. This Valley Girl doesn't seem to have suffered from having been brought up as a NK Valley Girl. She could be a YouTube star in America. Maybe she knows some of Trump's Russian friends.

My friend recently moved back to Massachusetts (Boston). She is looking to buy a house. She tells me that new housing is all luxury housing, except developers are required to include a few moderately priced units. As one might expect, the demand for the moderately priced units exceeds the supply, so one who can't afford a luxury unit must get in line, a long line. This seems irrational. With all of the unmet demand for moderately priced units, why don't builders construct more moderately priced units. I understand that the moderately priced units are smaller than the luxury units, so the developer could build and sell more moderately priced units. I know, the luxury units sell for more per square foot, so the buyers of the luxury units are in effect subsidizing the buyers of the moderately priced units. That's not freedom! On the other hand, the buyers of the moderately priced units cannot sell at more than a (very) modest profit. That's not freedom!

Whoops: 5.

fixed costs, and margins.

if you examine the building codes, permit process, and associated other fees, all of which add up to a "tax" - you will find they set an effective minimum cost that is at least somewhat fixed.

some of these costs are outright fixed fees "you have to pay $10K to build a dwelling in our city", and sometimes implied "all new dwellings shall have sewer hookups, which cost $z".

I've seen claims that in Seattle metro these numbers run between $50K and $70K. Another claim was that in Portland it's literally impossible to build a condo at a cost of less than $200/sq ft.

All of that sets one of (many) floors on the costs of a dwelling. A great deal of that won't be fixed by zoning (governments won't be strapped for cash and need the permit money? we won't make new dwellings be hooked up to city water and city sewer?)

Margins are the other player. I suspect margins on high dwellings are higher, but even if they're the same, there's a scale problem. For a given level of developer effort, the in-pocket return on investment capital, on time, etc. may be rather higher for high end dwellings.

So it's not about market demand, it's about where is the profitable part of the market.

So if we revived the practice of 'slopping out' we could reduce the cost of housing considerably. Would also increase employment of 'night soil men'.

Shorter: regulations increase both fixed, variable and time costs. This leads to less low cost housing.

New luxury units turn existing luxury units into affordable units - more or less. In my neighborhood you see units in need of a gut renovation selling for top dollar. But when a new luxury building opens suddenly those units drop significantly in price.

Exactly. It makes no sense in expensive cities to build inexpensive homes. New homes should be expensive but they reduce pricing pressure on older homes.

There are dozens of variables which drive the construction of housing units, and regulation/ taxes are among the most minor.
Primarily the cost of land and cost of construction compared to the market rents are the most powerful drivers.
But market rent is driven by things like access to jobs, transportation and amenities like parks and beaches.

Moderately priced units are only possible on moderately priced land.

"With all of the unmet demand for moderately priced units, why don't builders construct more moderately priced units."

Construction and permitting (and other regulation) costs make moderately priced units unprofitable in those areas, or, from another way of looking at it, zoning and regulation that make it illegal to build modestly designed units that would sell at a moderate price. (Even if moderately priced units are smaller, regulations often have have minimum lot sizes, minimum average square foot requirements, minimum parking requirements, height and FAR limits, and other things that prevent putting more units on the same plot of land.)

Just as with cars, moderately priced housing is always going to disproportionately be used (pre-owned). You want to produce enough new houses that people vacate their old houses in the same way that people sell their lightly used cars.

Something similar in my town, across a whole development on formerly city-owned land. The strictures on how much the mandated-"affordable" units (everything's relative, I guess, in most places you'd be lucky to sell grandma's house and 3 acres for such a price, prolly to the state prison system or the highway department) could appreciate were complicated; the so-designated units could shift, the outfit could buy them back and sell at market rate, a percentage was all that mattered, the county appraisal district suggested perhaps all was not legal and kosher, etc.... when the local paper we're about to lose looked into it, they found the city or its nonprofit quasi-city entity had ceased to keep records about the incomes of the lottery-winners, as well as who lived where, and which units were "affordable," etc. I don't imagine a clever lawyer would have too much difficulty arguing everyone, even the lottery winners. should now be allowed to sell for market rate, as no one seemed to have honored their fiduciary duty.

It costs $450,000 to construct a one bedroom condominium. It costs to much to make "affordable" housing

Boston is North America's capital of wonderful "used" housing. Tell your friend she can pick from the housing stock of five different centuries. (17th and 18th century housing is rare and expensive, but 19th and 20th century housing isn't.) This is a rather smashing one, a little out of the way but nothing is that far in Boston's near-west suburbs, and affordable by Boston standards. Presumably she can get by with fewer than 4 bedrooms and a huge yard if she's just one person.

Because someone is on Youtube, that makes them a Valley girl?

5. I'm sure the causation goes both ways, but there's a correlation between a high MATCHR score and desirability.

If my town's MATCHR score were in the low end of the scale, I'd leave.

As soon as I saw "worst regulation," I guessed it would turn out to mean "best," at least for some.

You'd leave San Diego for Oceanside? You'd leave Irvine for Riverside?

The only thing desireable about places like Atherton is that rich people concentrate there.

Not sure I see the correlation.

Yup, that was my reaction: the somewhat surprising lack of correlation between these scores vs desirability or income level on the other. Riverside has high regulation, Irvine low.

But Irvine may be an outlier -- isn't the undeveloped land there still owned by the Irvine Ranch? So it's not like other high-income municipalities where homeowners will vote for strict zoning regulations and for NIMBY representatives, the Irvine Ranch will decide those matters.

There are nice parts of Oceanside and crappy parts of San Diego. At some relative price I'd make the trade. I'd still be within 15 minutes of the ocean and have the world's best climate.

Those numbers make no sense to me. San Bernardino? Nobody wants to build or buy there. Palm Springs? There’s thousands of acres of sand there.

Just doesn’t add up.

You hate Dublin and San Diego?

Regarding Patreon list and the Bloomberg article, I was surprised by the tiny amounts those "artists" fetch. Left wing is always very vocal about how little we pay in taxes (40-50% of GDP, trillions), while when it comes their time for philantropy, and about the cause of their choice, they barely can gather 1 million in the whole country.

#1 So there's a possible correlation that populations moving from one significantly different culture and polity to another may not - in fact - leave behind defining characteristics of their culture and polity. And here I was thinking American dirt was magic this whole time. Silly me.

#4 Very good list. I've read #5 "The Party". Very very good.

#1. I wonder if you could show the same decline in political participation as English language television became available.

Hispanic voter participation has been substantially below non-hispanic numbers (15%) since at least 1986.

Of course, that doesn't disprove your hypothesis.

5. This one reminded me of the Yogiism: Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded. The supply of housing in areas with high demand is less than the demand for housing, while the supply of housing in areas with relatively low demand is greater than the demand for housing. Or as Yogi would put it: If anybody could buy a house in an area, nobody would want to live there any more.

The states in the country where the supply of housing is relatively elastic and growing have higher demand (and certainly more demand supplied), as they have a lot more internal migration to those states. Plenty of people want to (and do) live in Texas, North Carolina, etc.

There are two main types of areas: elastic supply, and inelastic supply. In elastic supply areas, the price of housing is relatively close to the construction cost, and doesn't much change with demand. Instead, the quantity supplied changes. (There are occasional bubbles, but they end, sometimes swiftly.)

In inelastic supply areas, the price of housing changes dramatically with demand (but not quantity supplied.) This can be very high, as in some of those towns, but in some places it can go so low as to be effectively zero (as in Detroit at times), well below construction costs, because the housing stock doesn't vanish as people move away.

"If anybody could buy a house in an area, nobody would want to live there any more" is only true in a heavily regulated low elasticity of supply regime.

Besides, do you think that people hate Dublin, CA? It's #2 on the list, and rapidly growing thanks to that. It's a nice place, constantly ranked high on best places to live.

From number one, in the abstract:

Despite the importance of ethnic television within immigrant communities, its effects on political participation are unclear. On the one hand, ethnic media can mobilize and inform voters. On the other hand, it can serve as a source of diversion and reduce the desire to participate.
Becoming informed and not participating are not mutually exclusive, like here in California. If you are informed, you are likely exiting the state, unless you are getting government check..

Are you personally uninformed, exiting the state, or getting a government check?

the greek pagan symbol hasn't almost happened. Those symbols aren't existential are they? Because an icicle isn't as felt.

Or making a lot of money, which is indeed easier in California than in most low-cost states.

#4 Where's Edgar Snow? 金瓶梅 and 紅樓夢? 三國演義 should be ranked much higher. No collection of 唐 or 宋 verse? It's terribly cliche, but no 孫子兵法? How about 三字經, which was only the basis of Chinese primary education for a hundred or so years? I shudder to imagine what these people will include in a list of 100 "must read" books about the US.

Its a pattern has collected. Remembered. Fastidious but "plaid." Martial Arts, Veterinary Intrigue, Electronic (Gaming).

There's no mention of John King Fairbanks. Jonathan Spence has just one book recommended. Poor, thoughtless and useless list.

Atherton is a small suburban sleeping town near Palo Alto that has mostly seniors living on minimum one acre lots with mansions and no commercial zones...and is probably the last of the former Republican enclaves in the Bay Area. I'm not surprised that the old white folk in Atherton would want to use the system to keep out the influx of new money from the recently arriving Chinese millionaires.

There was a guy who told his story here once ..

Oh Atherton.

Each household has its own personal police officer. I was at an Atherton house party where a fight broke out, and the officer was summoned. I have not met a more understanding and discrete police officer! On weekend nights, Atherton police cars used to line the roads between East Palo Alto and Atherton, to discourage the less desirable elements from entering. Good times.

Q. "Which California localities have the worst housing regulation?"

A. The town with the nicest housing: Atherton.

From Wikipedia:

Atherton is a wealthy incorporated town in San Mateo County, California, United States. Its population was 7,159 as of 2013. In 1990 and 2019[11], Atherton was ranked as having the highest per capita income among U.S. towns with a population between 2,500 and 9,999,[12] and it is regularly ranked as the most expensive ZIP Code in the United States.[13][14][15]

I lived in Atherton from about 1950 to 1966, before they let the riff-raff move in. I'm guessing that there are maybe twice as many housing units there now as there were back then, because a lot of the 25-acre estates have been subdivided.

For what it's worth, I've noticed that they're torn down a lot of the old houses and built mansions that seem to use up a whole one-acre lot. So zoning and set-back issues are not comparable to the kinds that YIMBYs complain about elsewhere.

They should have excluded the small entries from the list. A town of 7,500 people isn't going to be comparable to cities 50-100x larger.

#4 None of the Dikoetter trilogy made the list. Surprised me. In fact, only one search result on the whole list includes "famine" and none for "Great leap".

a distance of plethora, the Chinese novel is more lag than skip I don't think the Dikoetter trilogy is available in English. Rocky at best, an assimilation intruder!

We have a China post today but the Brazilian cuckold that usually spams this section is nowhere to be seen.

5. On Atherton.

It's in California, population density of 250 people per square mile. Atherton has 500 housing units per square mile. That's 2 housing units per person based on a rational allocation of people given the massive amount of land for California. Given a population density in Atherton of 1400, why is 5 times the average density considered too low?

And while conservatives keep telling us everyone if leaving California, how can housing be scarcer and scarcer if population is falling because California is so horrible a place to live because government is so bad?

Does every person leaving California take two housing units with them?

And given most of the land in Athrrton is owned by people who do not want more houses built on their land, both individually and collectively, voting to keep out developments like better public transit services, how would Atherton end up with more housing?

Government seizing private land to build public housing?

Government seizing private land to give to a private developer like Trump?

I find conservative/libertarian economists to be big government central planners. Otherwise, they would buy up a large block of cheap unincorporated vacant land in California , incorporate it, write whatever rules that result in lots and lots of housing units to be constructed, and then paying the billions needed to have workers to build all the needed infrastructure: transportation, water and sewer, as critical capital investment enablers for building housing capital stock.

There's been an attempt to do that, not by libertarian developers but by developers who want to build a giant satellite city east of Oakland, near (and south of) Altamont I believe, but the plans have not moved forward because of the environmental regulations and need for water. There is plenty of water in the Columbia River basin, 800 miles north, but they're not selling, and LA and San Francisco don't seem interested in giving up any of their water rights.

Wealthy White People. The bottom of the list are cities populated with these entitled schmucks.

Sounds like you haven't spent a lot of time in Riverside.

Atherton resident here. It’s very nice - wouldn’t change a thing. Ask me anything.

How many cucks they got down there?

None. 100% alpha males hell bent on living the good life and world domination.

Drops a link casually, saunters away.

(Seriously, it's important to crack these information silos.)

Come on now, someone please comment on this latest revelation about the Trump administration.

Sorry, fake anonymous. They know what Mattis knows.

"Mattis often seemed burdened in his role. His aides and friends say he found the president to be of limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character."

Maybe I should spare you the cruel joke that that's ok, because "limited cognitive ability and generally dubious character" just reduce to a carbon tax. So no big deal.

Come on, please someone comment on my post, I need to crack open thuis information silo with my Truth.

"Across multiple studies, we find that access to Spanish‐language television is associated with decreases in turnout, ethnic civic participation, and political knowledge."

More than 10 years ago I heard Mauricio Rojas make a similar remark in a talk about inmigration titled The Challenges of the Open Society regarding the kurds in Sweden.

5. Unusual that SF ranks so high

#6: I made a mostly positive comment about Weitzman under Alex's post. I have much admiration and respect for him. But this manure-stealing escapade, which made the national news at least within higher education, had and still has me wondering WTH:

I'm shocked SHOCKED! I thought he wouldn't take any sh*t from anyone!!!

Nothing from Steve Mosher on that China book list.

A list of books on China without anything by Pierre Ryckmans is worthless. Chinese Shadows reinvented modern China studies.

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