Or are there short-term rental protections in the bill, and I’m just missing them?
This post is going to result in 700-tweet long shitposting threads about how I’m a bad person. But I have to say what I need to say here.
SB827, even though I support it, currently fits into the pattern of a long line of progressive legislation and urban policy/planning that goes part way along a progressive agenda, on the parts of the agenda that lots of people like, and then never really gets to the part of the agenda where benefits go directly to poor people. There are hard, institutional reasons why not, but that doesn’t obviate the responsibilities that progressives who support this thing have to deliver on what they have said about protecting renters in the months since Measure S.
Partial strategies, which are political meat and potatoes, are how policy rolls, even ostensibly progressive ones: legislation crafts a part of the agenda–the part that developers and planners both like, like the infill supply and upzoning part–but not any part of the agenda that is meant to specifically protect and support black, brown, and poor renters. That part always seems to be “phase II” or “next up” or in the “trickle down” or in the “filtering” stages of the plans. And it never happens–or it takes a very long time to happen– because at least one part of the coalition that is in the coalition to push for new real estate opportunities–developers and development interests–is ready to move on to new political fights because they see protecting poor people as secondary or something the market can handle or something that isn’t their lookout. This is how race and class privilege get baked into policy.
Legislative effort can trickle away so quickly that you don’t even notice that what you hoped to do for those who are most vulnerable can evaporate before you realize it.
We hear again and again that cities and state governments “can’t afford” to intervene in rental supports. “It’s too expensive.” And so we (again) turn to a one-sided strategy of thinking private land development will solve problems (again), and it will undoubtedly solve some people’s problems (yay) but it won’t do so for those who are very needy (again).
It never has.
At some point, it’s not enough to espouse the right values. Saying that “serious housing supply advocates also support progressive rental policies” does a nice job of communicating that you, individually, care, which is nice, and it wins the high ground on social media after all the criticism leveled at supply-side advocates, but that care, high ground, and $1.75 gets you a ride on the bus and impoverished renters diddly if their short-term, right-now concerns get glossed over or put off until “next time” in our legislative battles.
I support SB827, but I don’t expect much from it other than what I’ve seen planning and urban policy do over and over again for development and not for poor people. I love the energy and excitement of young people interested in urbanism who see SB827 as “transformative.” It is–it’s a big step for the infill agenda. But in other ways, it’s business as usual: Henri Lefebvre pointed out over the course of a very distinguished career, planning is a means to stabilize urban politics and conflicts over development for capitalist development. That’s what we are doing with SB287, even though lots of people are doing so for the best intentions.
I’d love people to prove me wrong here. But not with Twitter shouting–with finding ways to make good on the progressive promise.
Edited–I originally posted SB287 which is the sort of thing that happens to one when posting at 4:30 in the morning. Thanks to Greg Morrow for pointing it out so I could fix it.