Isn't It Weird That
Isn't It Weird That... Bus Cuts and Affordable Housing
Some weird things we noticed about bus cut rhetoric and affordable housing arguments.
Isn't It Weird That ... The libertarian Washington Policy Center (which suddenly cares about poor people who ride buses) accuses me of "not realiz[ing] how cruelly these harsh [bus] cuts will fall on the most vulnerable people living in our communities"... while citing, as evidence, "recent news reports" that include two stories I wrote for PubliCola which stressed that very point.
In fact, most of my coverage so far (here's another in-depth example) has focused on the impact the cuts will have on low-income riders, particularly those who work at night or on the weekends and may lose bus service entirely.
The disproportionate impact on low-income riders was, in fact, the main reason I encouraged readers to get out and vote for Proposition 1, the vehicle license fee and sales tax measure that would have enabled Metro to forestall the worst cuts, arguing that "the most regressive action King County could take would be to eliminate 17 percent of its bus service—service that the poorest residents of the county rely on to get them from place to place."
Conservatives like to talk about "cutting the fat," but, as Metro general manager Kevin Desmond has pointed out relentlessly over the past year leading up to the cuts, there's no fat left to cut.
The real issue the WPC appears to have with my coverage is that I pointed out that their "solutions" for cutting costs at Metro without cutting bus service are either impractical (you can't "open dialogue with the union" when that union's contract is already in arbitration, because union contracts don't work that way) or have already been implemented (Metro has, in fact, already "rigorously controlled operating expenses," cutting $148 million a year through operating efficiencies.)
Conservatives like to talk about "cutting the fat," but, as Metro general manager Kevin Desmond has pointed out relentlessly over the past year leading up to the cuts, there's no fat left to cut. Now they're getting down to the meat and bone—basic bus service. That's what happens when you don't fund public services adequately—eventually, the services themselves end up on the chopping block.
Isn't It Weird That ... in a recent Daily Journal of Commerce op/ed, City council member Nick Licata, arguing in favor of the city's incentive zoning program (in which residential developers pay into an affordable housing fund or build on-site affordable housing in exchange for more height and density), uses New York City's similar program as an example of an incentive zoning program that works?
Weird because: According to a report commissioned by a member of the New York City Council, the program has produced just two percent of all multifamily units built since 2005, and those units are concentrated in just two neighborhoods—the West Side of Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront.
"Only a small percentage of eligible developers have chosen to utilize the program," the report (which suggests requiring developers to provide affordable housing on-site, instead of making it optional, while also providing tax credits and other subsidies for developers) concludes.