Blog Post #3

I am Supporting AB 3182

In order to relieve the housing and homeless crisis in California, the legislature is considering a bill (AB 3182) to require housing associations (HOAs) to allow at least 25% of their residential units to be rented. I just received a piece of propaganda from the CAI, urging me to oppose the bill. Not only can I not oppose it, I strongly support it. Here’s why:

We have an existential problem here in America, a problem that is not unlike a low-grade fever: it is racism, plain and simple. We have become so inured to this disease that we don’t even notice it; yet, it affects everything we do. In our private lives, in our public policies. Whether intentional or not, rental restrictions, sadly, have become just another one of those “affects.” Defending the status quo, then (as the CAI implores us), is no better than the “reasonable restrictions” placed on home ownership in the Levittowns that sprang up on the East Coast after WWII, racial restrictions that were still being enforced when I was in law school in 1960. Or the private restrictions once used to keep Blacks out of private preserves like the one where the McCloskeys live in St. Louis. Same with red-lining of Black neighborhoods. Everyone just took them for granted. And since it didn’t affect my lily-white neighborhood when I was growing up, I really didn’t think about it.

The sole evidence of racial animosity in my neighborhood while growing up was exhibited by, of all things, my dalmatian, Eyore. While out walking the dog, whenever a Black person passed by, Eyore would ferociously snarl and bark. If he wasn’t on a leash, I was afraid he would have attacked the person. It didn’t take long for me to understand Eyore’s ferocity: he was so unused to seeing a Black face that he viewed them as someone (or some thing) different, hostile. Frankly, I found that horribly embarrassing: At my tender age of 14 or 15, Eyore was an extension of his master . . . and I was his master! So I put the experience out of my mind … as quickly as I could.

Today, we can no longer simply put these moments out of our minds. What this low grade fever is subconsciously doing to so many of our fellow citizens (and what it is in fact doing to so many people of color) is inuring us to a lot of damage, destroying futures, repressing hope, condemning generations . . . and threatening our self-esteem.

I’m sure that many opposing AB 3182 have nothing but the best of intentions. But if they stood back and thought about what this bill seeks to accomplish, they will see that their opposition is just an extension of the NIMBY attitude that squelched the hopes of so many Black house-hunters forced to remain in red-lined neighborhoods in the 1950s. Sure, I’m in favor of our having the highest possible percentage of owner occupancy here in Laguna Woods Village: owner-occupiers are much more likely to care about their manors, to invest in their manors, and thus increase not only the value of their property but the livability of the community. But when the result of that principle conflicts with the needs of society for more and more inclusive housing (which more often will affect people of color), placing modest restrictions on our freedom of contract should not be too much of an intrusion into our daily lives. And a 25% limit is clearly reasonable.

And, who knows, it could introduce you to someone you might never have otherwise known.

Just my opinion.

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