Refuting Claims to California's "War on Suburbia"

Josh Stephens takes aim at the provocative claims made by Wendell Cox, "the outspoken libertarian urban scholar" in a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal, titled "California Declares War on Suburbia".

2 minute read

April 11, 2012, 12:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj

In a point-by-point refutation of the claims made by Cox in his recent piece, Stephens defends two landmark state laws that promote compact development patterns for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which Cox blames for raising housing prices and driving out residents.

To Cox's claim that, "Since 2000 more than 1.6 million people have fled, and my own research as well as that of others points to high housing prices as the principal factor."

Stephens retorts that, "SB 375 and AB 32 did not pass until 2008 and 2006, respectively. In the first half of the 2000s, developers could not build homes fast enough in California. So, yes, it must be the climate change regulations and not the incredible demand for housing that has driven prices up."

To Cox's vision of "hyperdensity" development being forced upon the state by planners, Stephens replies, "'Hyperdensity'? Hyperdensity is Hong Kong. It's Mumbai. It's a Hunger Games screening on opening night. The notion that Cox thinks any place in California could ever be hyperdense is enough to forever disregard him. (Ironically, I don't actually want to disregard him. I like a good contrarian.)"

In conclusion, Stephens notes that, "Surely SB 375 and its SCS's have their flaws. But if California is going to absorb millions of new residents, reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and be anything less than a snarled hellhole a generation from now, then it needs to do something. For now, SB 375 is that something, and spreading falsehoods and half-truths about it will not help."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 in California Planning & Development Report

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