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Free fire zones - the solution for housing?

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
"Fre Fire Zones"-the solution for housing?

I had to visit one of our less salubrious trailer parks in town last night. There were folks living in trailers smaller than SUVs back there.

Pretty sad, but once I got past my middle-class suburban biases, I had to ask the question: Isn't this better than homelessness? In what rational fiscal regime could the "government" (local, state, or federal) provide tidy middle class housing for all of the people served by substandard housing like this? And, would many of these "free spirits" want to submit to such government-provided and regulated apartments?

We make fun of Houston, but sometimes I wonder if everyone can AFFORD rigid zoning and planning laws.

Given that this country (and my state in particular) are addicted to cheap, third world labor, and given how wages for most working families are declining (and they will decline for the "creative class" as well-you can't compete with India and China, black turtleneck folks!)and given that building and planning regulations seem to become stricter (and more expensive) each year, isn't one solution to provide for "free fire zones" on the outskirts of towns-wherein regulations are limited to the absolute minimum public health and safety requirements?

This would mean a ring of favellas around many American cities-but that's better than five large families sharing a single 1200 square foot flat top rancher (or sleeping under culverts). People who want rigid planning regs can live in the wonderful planned gated communities also popping up-but they wouldn't necessarily have the right to quash any affordable housing zones nearby, like today's NIMBYism would permit.

So, any thoughts on my little rant? :)
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
What you are suggesting is how things are in my province.

Zoning in village/towns and cities only and "go to her" outside the boundaries(a few exception sof course).

What this has lead to is insanely expensive servicing (roads, schools, garbage collection etc) and a general degradtion of the environemnt and community. Want to locate an asphalt plant next to a residential subdivison, almost no problem. Want to build on a sand dune, no problem. Want to operate a gravel pit in an endangered species habitat, no problem. I could go on and on with examples.

While I understand your concerns related to housing, places like this in my area are not that uncommon.

173affordable_houseing2.jpg

I think society would be better off bringing people who have to live in $600 trailers into subsidized housing and better use our resources. This trailer was being powered by a car battery and had no running water and just barely had a septic system.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
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1,264
Points
22
donk said:
This trailer was being powered by a car battery and had no running water and just barely had a septic system.

How does that work? Sounds more like a privy than a septic system.

Affordable is sub-standard housing in old ghettos owned by slum lords.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
But the problem in California, ludes, is the old housing in the central cities is now (or was) desirable and very expensive. The poor and working class who are not homeless live in outer suburbs. Michellezone has commented on this unusual context.

We have older (1950s) single family subdivisions with five families crammed into 1200 square feet. People DO adjust. But, of course, there are now eight cars parked on the street, lots of additional household refuse, and cultural misunderstandings created by loud parties and the propensity to work on family and friend's cars.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
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1,264
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22
BKM said:


We have older (1950s) single family subdivisions with five families crammed into 1200 square feet. People DO adjust. But, of course, there are now eight cars parked on the street, lots of additional household refuse, and cultural misunderstandings created by loud parties and the propensity to work on family and friend's cars.

I can see that trend in cities with concetrated employment, especially high income jobs. We don't have that because we sprawl so much. The employment base is spread out so much that cross town commutes make traffic in all directions awful. We seem to have a varied fabric of housing here that has neighborhoods with $300K homes near $90K neighborhoods. (These children attend the same school. I have no children so I would love to know what school is like for them. This social interaction must be frictional.)

I live in a city with a university, so party control is pretty tight. It is especially tough on non-owner occupied housing which fines the owners and tenants. As for working on cars, I don't see that as a problem, unless a nuisance is created. I work on my vehicle because I enjoy it. I don't leave it in the driveway on jack stands or have oil and fluids staining the driveway.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
donk said:


173affordable_houseing2.jpg

This trailer was being powered by a car battery and had no running water and just barely had a septic system.

Thats the outhouse, right? People actually live i things like that outside 3rd world countries?
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
A man and his daughter where living there until we showed up to do the building inspection and had to call the Health Department about the septic system. The Health Inspector had to report the case to family services and they have subsequently moved.

I've got more pictures like this from my area, plus some stories about ones that were fixed before my time.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
Re: "Fre Fire Zones"-the solution for housing?

BKM said:
We make fun of Houston, but sometimes I wonder if everyone can AFFORD rigid zoning and planning laws....So, any thoughts on my little rant? :)



Welcome to the darkside!
Say it with me: Catsup is a vegatable!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
You had me until you wanted to locate these places at the edge of town. I share Donk's views on what happens at the rural fringe. We have two trailer parks at the edge of the city. We took in one when its septic system failed. Basically, city residents ended up subsidizing it. I won't go into stories of the condition of some of the units.

In this country, we tend to be behind the times, and certainly not very innovative in the way we deal with housing for poorer households. We have now moved away from the ghetto towers and are building more neighborhoods (replaceing what was destroyed in the first place), but have not really evaluated true housing needs or alternative housing forms. For instance:

- How much space does a household really need to be comfortable? Houses and apartments are getting larger all of the time. Do they really need to?

- Why not consider investing a little more up front and move more people into owner-occupied housing instead of just cutting rent checks? Part of the route out of poverty is building equity and the best way to do that is to own a house.

- Let's look to other countries for ideas. Co-housing is a promising form of living for many households. Each unit has their own private unit, but there is a larged common area with kitchen, etc. (The architect who designed the one co-housing development in Madison gave me a tour just as it was being completed. I found it appealing.)
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
Points
29
Very good points, Cardinale. The only reason I mentioned rural land is because that is where is available and cheapest.

And, to amplify further, one local rehabilitation project involved the removal of a substandard trailer park just up the street from my first example. Now, there were code violations up the wazoo, constant calls for police service, and all the problems of concentrated poverty. And, the residents were given relocation funds (although one has now burned all of her bridges and can be seen wandering the streets homeless :( ) But, the problem is that the new infill ownership housing units will be approaching $300,000. That may be "moderate income," but where is the housing supply for the lost souls who were scraping by in the trailer park? We aren't building enough housing for these folks-and homeownership in housing that meets all codes may always be unaffordable.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
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2,713
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24
BKM said:
......We aren't building enough housing for these folks-and homeownership in housing that meets all codes may always be unaffordable.

I can't agree with the relaxing of codes for the purpose of housing. My fear is based around a similar situation that happened within the mental health institutions.

In the instance of housing, it would be the equivelent of a few slum lords throw up huge substandard dorms. The slumlord makes a mint and you further conentrate poor people into worse conditions than they had before.

small renters are not going to make money renting to somebody at $200 a month with the accumulated social baggage. To much wear and tear for too little profit. Enter the slumloard.

He builds a monstrosity of a cheap building with half the wiring, plumbing and heating, all no frills. Said monstrosity holds 500 to 2000 people at whatever a month. He will make money. He need only pass the buck to show it is his renters that are the scum, not him.

No property owner in thier right mind would let that happen without a fight. NIMBY would be right on this one. How do you enforce legal zoning standards on normal people when you would allow large loopholes for others?

I do understand the idea that you are trying to acomplish. I would rather see future malls and big box retailers post a bond before construction for the renovation and reuse of thier facilites after abandonement. Sort of built in building rehab.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
ludes98 said:
As for working on cars, I don't see that as a problem, unless a nuisance is created. I work on my vehicle because I enjoy it. I don't leave it in the driveway on jack stands or have oil and fluids staining the driveway.

Unfortunately, it is quite often a nuisance. My next-door neighbor's teen-age son often has 5 or 6 friends over (all with their own cars) and they open the hoods and work on all of them, all day, with music blaring. Not uncommon in Florida, I think it's a social activity created by racing fans...
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Zoning Goddess said:
Unfortunately, it is quite often a nuisance. My next-door neighbor's teen-age son often has 5 or 6 friends over (all with their own cars) and they open the hoods and work on all of them, all day, with music blaring. Not uncommon in Florida, I think it's a social activity created by racing fans...

Haven't seen any of these "tuner parties" of which you speak. I would call that a nuisance too. I work on mine in my garage, but do use an impact wrench and other tools that I know violate the noise ordinance....oops. Never had complaints, but my neighbor is a metal work artist and we have 2 hot rod afficionados on the street too. Hmm I wonder if a blower on '40 Ford is a nuisance......
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
About the working on cars

Of course, I don't mean that people who work on their own cars are a problem. What we have observed, however, is that many of these garage mechanics quickly go into business-and you have five junkers and parts cars parked on the property.

Everyone does make some good points about this issue. My position may be a little more insidious and will surely subject me to attack:

If we are going to continue to rely on a cheap labor economy while encouraging/expediting huge levels of immigration-then we had better relax our nice middle class standards and allow these newcomers to be housed at affordable prices. And, I have very little sympathy for the suburban NIMBYs who love all of the benefits of this divided economy but want to pay few of the costs. These are the subrbanites who vote for lower taxes, who vote for punitive anti-immigrant legislation, who oppose even well-designed affordable housing-while at the same time enjoying the maid services, the gardeners, the sweatshop labor in the restaurants (do you really think the busboy wiping your table can afford the $300,000 "affordable" housing units built in Northern California?)

We can't have it both ways.

Edit: I am dealing with squabbling neighbors in a code enforcement case today. Thus, my even more than normal flamethrowing posts. :(
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Re: About the working on cars

BKM said:
My position may be a little more insidious and will surely subject me to attack:

If we are going to continue to rely on a cheap labor economy while encouraging/expediting huge levels of immigration-then we had better relax our nice middle class standards and allow these newcomers to be housed at affordable prices. And, I have very little sympathy for the suburban NIMBYs who love all of the benefits of this divided economy but want to pay few of the costs. These are the subrbanites who vote for lower taxes, who vote for punitive anti-immigrant legislation, who oppose even well-designed affordable housing-while at the same time enjoying the maid services, the gardeners, the sweatshop labor in the restaurants (do you really think the busboy wiping your table can afford the $300,000 "affordable" housing units built in Northern California?)

We can't have it both ways.

The reality is that this is a division of class. Regardless of suburban or urban, people who can afford the working class services of which you speak, do not want to live near or in the same building as these laborers. I agree that they need affordable housing, but relaxing standards isn't the best route. Community programs and keeping absentee owners accountable for their properties works better.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
True-and I am not denying that your solutions are not important, too. I just wonder if it is enough. At least in California, EVERYONE is a NIMBY-and no housing gets built.

If we can't house people adequately, then shouldn't we begin rethinking the American mythology of continuous population (and economic) growth? Are the nativist nuts now right?
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
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39
The problem is the cookie-cutter, beige subdivisions from hell that are all over. Many older neighborhoods (yes, such as mine) have a true mix and everyone is happy. My home is on the low-middle end of the spectrum here, but we have homes ranging from the mid-50's (2 br, 1 b) to the mid-300's (3 story, lake-front, 5 br, carriage house). No "class wars". And best of all: no 2 homes look alike!
 

BKM

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6,463
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29
That would never fly these days, Zoning Goddess. How would the builder do focused marketing of his "consumer product"?

To quote a local resident at a hearing: "I earn $80,000 per year. I don't want my children to associate with the children of persons earning $40,000 per year."
 

donk

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BKM said:

To quote a local resident at a hearing: "I earn $80,000 per year. I don't want my children to associate with the children of persons earning $40,000 per year."

My reply to that would be "I guess you should not be talking to me, those of us that make 40K make a lot of decisons in this world for you 80 k people."

Mike D. asked
People actually live i things like that outside 3rd world countries?




On that trailer, here are a few more from that area. This site is one that I was too scared to get out of the car at. There are 5 trailers on one lot, using garden hoses for water.

173parker11.jpg

173parker9.jpg

173parker5.jpg

(Not my car, I was with the health inspector.)
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
BKM said:
If we can't house people adequately, then shouldn't we begin rethinking the American mythology of continuous population (and economic) growth? Are the nativist nuts now right?

I don't know about the nuts being right, but I can't even begin to think how you could get population growth control. I do think that people are always too economically optomistic.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,223
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29
Re: "Fre Fire Zones"-the solution for housing?

BKM said:
Given that this country (and my state in particular) are addicted to cheap, third world labor, and given how wages for most working families are declining (and they will decline for the "creative class" as well-you can't compete with India and China, black turtleneck folks!)and given that building and planning regulations seem to become stricter (and more expensive) each year, isn't one solution to provide for "free fire zones" on the outskirts of towns-wherein regulations are limited to the absolute minimum public health and safety requirements?

They're called squatter settlements. They will pop up regardless of zoning and planning regulations. Be thankful we live in a country where these things are rare or non-existent.

 

donk

Cyburbian
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6,970
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30
Cardinal said:
Am I imagining it or is that a satellite dish on the barn?

I know that got us too. Here they are using garden hoses and extension cords to service the trailers, yet they have satellite TV and complain when given a work order because it is too expensive.

The reason we had to go out to this site was that the Health Dept received a complaint about body parts from cows and stuff showing up on neighbours lawns. the neighbourhood dogs were dragging them around.

I never felt so bad for animals as I did when I saw the pen they were living in.

On squatters, down near Fredericton, there was a community of the descendants of escaped and freed slaves and natives. They pretty much lived in the road allowance in tar paper shacks and packing crates until the mid 1980's. Since then some houses have been built and things are better for the "Bog Babies" (racial slur and description of where they live, They live on the "otnabog")

While development standards could be relaxed in some communities (ie vancouver requires all residential infill to have sprinklers), our National Building Code is not that hard to follow. We've had a person actually tell us that he planned on using 2x4's as floor joists spaced on 24 inches. Sometimes Codes are there to protect the stupid.
 
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