Just yesterday, I wrote that suburban communities get addicted to federal funds and, once having done that, they are stuck with federal policies that require those same communities to commit slow suicide. Today, with perfect timing, there’s a news article making my point.
As readers of Cyra McFadden’s classic novel, The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County, know, Marin County, which had once been a Republican bastion, started trending Left in the early 1970s. The transformation was complete by the early 1980s. Marin County is now one of the bluest of blue counties in America. Also, in neighborhoods such as mine, the people buying in were children or weren’t even born yet during Marin’s conservative past.
The only barrier to moving to Marin is money: If you have unlimited amounts of money, you move to Tiburon, Ross, Greenbrae, or Belvedere. If you’re rich, you move to certain neighborhoods in San Rafael, Greenbrae, Larkspur, Sausalito, Novato, and Mill Valley. If you’re the “working rich” (meaning that you work damn hard to move to a mid-level house in an affluent community), you move to Corte Madera, Novato, Greenbrae, Fairfax, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Larkspur, Sausalito, and Mill Valley. If you’re low-income Hispanic (and, often, here illegally), you move to San Rafael’s Canal District. If you’re low-income black, you move to Marin City (which shares affluent Sausalito’s K-8 school districts and results in one of the highest funded, lowest performing school districts in America).
In Marin, there are no government ukases and there are no CC&Rs limiting people from moving into communities based upon race, religion, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc. All of those limitations became illegal in 1964, when the Civil Rights Act passed. Instead, you move where your savings and income take you. The only racial dividing line in Marin is an unspoken one that keeps poor Hispanics in San Rafael and poor blacks in Marin City. This racial line gets enforced by gangs within the community. The blacks and Hispanics are not friends.
Fair Housing of Marin (“FHM”), which is a local iteration of Obama’s Housing and Urban Development agency, is unimpressed by the facts on the ground. As far as it’s concerned, Marin County is still a seething cauldron of deliberate racism; and infected pustule with a toxin in it stretching back decades, to the beginning of the Roosevelt administration. That’s how it came about that FHM held a recent forum explaining that current Marin residents must make reparations for past wrongs:
Counties and states face increased pressure from the federal government to undo decades of housing segregation, according to a housing conference Monday in San Rafael.
About 120 people attended the session, sponsored by Fair Housing of Marin at the Marin Center’s Showcase Theater. The gathering occurred the same day that Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced his agency’s ruling that landlords who enforce blanket bans on renting to people with criminal records are violating the Fair Housing Act and can be sued.
“I can’t tell you how excited this makes me,” said Sara Pratt, former deputy assistant secretary for enforcement and programs at HUD, one of the speakers at the San Rafael conference. Pratt works for Relman, Dane and Colfax, a civil rights firm in Washington, D.C.
“This is one of the things I worked on when I was at HUD,” Pratt said. “It is one of the areas which my law firm has a lawsuit going right now in New York.”
Pratt, however, spent most of her time discussing HUD’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule, which was issued in July 2015. She emphasized that under the new rule, counties and states will have to do more than just combat housing discrimination if they want to qualify for community development block grants.
“The rule gives us the definition,” Pratt said. “It means taking meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination.”
Pratt said the new rule has important implications for states and counties that have enclaves of poverty that are not ethnically diverse. She said states and counties that want to continue to receive federal block grants will have to take steps to reverse segregation and to improve the quality of life for those who remain in the enclaves.
In other words, dear Marin homeowner, forget that you stayed in school 16 years, that you worked your way through college and professional school, and that you worked 80 hour weeks for more than decade to accumulate enough money to move into Marin. You and all your similarly situated neighbors are racist pigs and the federal government is going to make sure you pay. It will do this by placing substandard housing in your communities, which drives up crime (as happened in my neighborhood) and, inevitably, drives down housing prices. It will also do this by placing high density high rises in the middle of single-family suburban communites, creating unsustainable traffic jams and increasing crime — both of which inevitably drive down housing prices. To my mind, policies that are deliberately aimed at driving down housing prices constitute a form of unconstitutional government taking, but maybe that’s just me.
FHM and its daddy agency, HUD, don’t want to let the market place do its work. The market place works when housing prices become unsustainably high. It happens without a federal thumb and the scale, it happens without animus, racism, “anti-racism,” reparations, or any other thing. It is the natural movement of value and money. Instead, the federal government is going to punish the current generation of insanely hardworking suburbanites, the ones who made the choices of education, hard work, marriage, and children, all against a backdrop of saving money until every nickel squealed.
Oh, and all of this will be done through non-elected government officials (emphasis mine):
Arnold said some steps have been taken since then to address these impediments. These include: expanding the county’s community block development grant committee to include non-elected community representatives of protected classes; expanding diversity programs for county staff; increasing the amount of information the county provides in Spanish and English; and making county library books more available to children in poor communities.
(As an aside, I heartily approve of making county library books more available to children in poor communities. Future affluence starts with present education.)
What’s most appalling is that, to the self-righteous Leftists behind these high pressure tactics, feel that they are entirely justified in what they’re doing because the federal government once upon a time had its thumb:
The conference’s keynote speaker, Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., explained why he thinks the federal government has a duty to reverse the nation’s legacy of housing segregation.
Rothstein said many people have forgotten the central role that the federal government played in segregating the nation.
“We’ve adopted this myth of de facto segregation,” Rothstein said. But in fact, he said, segregation in America resulted due to “racially explicit public policy. Policy that was designed consciously to segregate the nation by race.”
There were two main drivers, Rothstein said. First, the New Deal’s Public Works Administration mandated that all public housing be segregated by race. Second, the Federal Housing Administration financed the building of suburban subdivisions during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, but loaned the money to builders on the condition that they not sell any of the new houses to African-Americans.
Outside of Marin City, which became a mecca for blacks during WWII, thanks to a shipbuilding industry, Marin has no public housing. That makes ridiculous the claim that current generations have to repent for public housing’s sins.
Moreover, you’ll notice that Rothstein never specifically alleges that Marin’s suburban subdivisions were built subject to the condition that African-Americans be excluded. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of the communities had precisely such CC&Rs. That kind of disgusting conduct was once the norm. It was disgusting when it was used against the Irish, it was disgusting when it was used against the Jews, it was disgusting when it was used against the Chinese, and the Hispanics, and every other distinct racial or cultural group that’s been on the receiving end of governmental malevolence. (Do I need to point out that the bulk of this racist government policy took place under two Democrat presidents?)
The solution to government-caused racial damage isn’t more government-caused racial damage, only this time with whites and Asians as the victims. Instead, the answer is to get the government out of housing policy and let the free market decide. If you have the money and aren’t engaged in criminal activity, we here in Marin are happy to welcome you to our community. Money is color-blind. Isn’t that nice?
Sadly, though, as I noted yesterday, our community, having already started dancing to the tune the federal government called out to the piper, must now keep dancing. If Marinites stop, they’re afraid their community will die without those funds. And, bizarrely, Marin residents would much rather have the federal government assist in their community suicide than attempt to go it alone, without federal money and federal interference.