There is a ridiculous house on the market in D.C., which has been given the name “Palazzo della Felicita (Palace of Happiness)”, and it’s a 16,000 sq. foot pile of…something. But what cracked me up the most was the eight car (that’s not a typo) garage:
No, it’s not that the garage floor is made of marble, which soaks up oils and can therefore stain. You see those beige things on the wall? Those are Siemens charging stations for electric cars. Yes, you have enough space–which needs to be heated and cooled–to easily house a few dozen people for a single family, eight cars, but thank goodness you’re helping save the environment with your electric car.
But a seventy percent tax bracket on high incomes would be a bad thing. Or something.
A couple of weeks ago, Minneapolis passed legislation banning single-family zoning. Here’s what that means (boldface mine):
Opening up Minneapolis’ wealthiest, most exclusive districts to triplexes, the theory goes, will create new opportunities for people to move for schools or a job, provide a way for aging residents to downsize without leaving their neighborhoods, help ease the affordability crunch citywide, and stem the displacement of lower-income residents in gentrifying areas. Homeownership in Minneapolis diverges along racial lines, with minority groups’ rates lagging between 20 and 35 percentage points behind that of whites. More rental supply citywide, in addition to a new $40 million slice of the budget for affordable housing, is expected to help tenants find a foothold. The mayor, for what it’s worth, is a renter himself—maybe the first tenant-mayor in the history of a city where (like in most American cities) the majority of people live in rental housing.
In my own home city of D.C., significant swathes of the city have mandatory single-family zoning, including areas near Metro stations:
Yellow areas are single-family only zones, brown is all other; green is parkland.
Despite this success, there is a great deal of concern about how to make this national. Will every battle have to be city by city? It seems to me that the mortgage interest deduction offers an opportunity here. Simply, any single-family in a census tract not defined as rural (< 1,000 people/sq. mile) would not receive the mortgage interest tax deduction. This isn’t telling people what to do with their property, and no one is showing up to knock your house down. But there’s no reason why it should be illegal–and why that policy should be subsidized with federal dollars–to build a duplex or a triplex. Do what you what with the property–and buy what you want too–but if you’re contributing to the housing shortage, renters don’t need to subsidize that.
…if the Democratic Party had a functional liberal wing. During the last couple of weeks, many olds ranging from ex-Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill to Whoopi Goldberg, not to mention a whole slew of conservatives and radical centrists, have been complaining that newly-elected Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has been getting too much attention (full disclosure: I supported her early on, including during her primary campaign, and contributed financially). They’re partially right, but for the wrong reason. The reason is related to an observation about Sanders’ 2016 campaign (boldface added):
For those who are still angry at Senator Sanders for running against Clinton: you’re right, he shouldn’t have run. More accurately, he shouldn’t have had to run, because there should have been Democratic politicians who called for the positions he supported. But the only liberal Democratic option was a self-described 74 year-old socialist who really isn’t a Democratic Party member. After 25 years, give or take, of purging (even if it’s the polite purge of not hiring) liberal Democrats from positions of power, including entities like mainline think tanks, the only option left is the self-described socialists (who really don’t seem that socialist).
Ocasio-Cortez is telegenic, ‘Twittergenic’ (if that’s a thing), and a quick study. But there really haven’t been any high-profile lefty types–who yoostabee called ‘liberal Democrats‘–who are good at working the media for years; Sen. Paul Wellstone is the last who comes to mind. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has, historically, been inept at getting its message out–and frankly, many of them just aren’t that liberal on the whole. It shouldn’t have taken a wet-behind-the-ears congresswoman to make the points she has publicly, proudly, effectively, and without hesitation: there should have been other Democrats doing this. It really is a symptom of just how much liberal Democrats (circa 1990s)–of which the 2016 primary support for Sanders indicated there are quite a few–have been relegated to the margins of the Democratic Party.
But here we are. So I guess the olds will have to put up with the young whippersnapper…