Regulation and neighborhood housing price effects

The findings of Kahn, Zasloff and Vaughn about the effect of California Coastal Commission regulation in its effective area reminded me of something.  For a while, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it came to me this morning.  I’m not sure they had to go all the way to Santa Monica from their base in Westwood to do  the field work.

Kahn and Zasloff live in a neighborhood protected by stringent access and resource use regulations, and Vaughn would like to move into it.  In this favored zone, residence employment is assured as long as you don’t do the equivalent of operating a body shop in your yard, or a meth lab in your kitchen.  You may not have an affair with a student or a subordinate, and you may not take the lawnmower from your neighbor’s garage ideas from your neighbor’s latest paper without leaving a note saying you did. Living in this neighborhood, as long as you follow the rules, has great attractions for many.  The mortgage payments are not all that high pay hit compared to private sector employment is pretty light, especially if you recognize that the base salary covers a four-day week for nine months a year, with hours of your choosing as long as you keep your lawn mowed and a coat of paint on your house publish something now and then, show up for class, and get your grades in. In your back yard blog, you can pursue hobbies of varied kinds. You can think about anything you want, and get to associate with profitable business contacts who have children suitable as dates for your own people you like and learn from, including smart and curious young tourists like Vaughn.

Among these, some  get to move in and stay. Vaughn could buy into this neighborhood in some towns schools with money, if he had enough to endow a chair or two and the city council chancellor were corrupt enough to sell a permit on these terms, but at UCLA he does it by being trod underfoot mentored  for a few years as a PhD student and a few more as junior faculty, radiating market signals publishing papers indicating his suitability as a resident on terms set by the neighborhood improvement association already-tenured faculty.  This investment, through the overlapping commitment structure of the academy, will assure him (though imperfectly) that he will be little afflicted in the future by neighbors who dig up the lawn and plant California native species ask awkward questions about positivist data-based epistemology or the need for a battered women’s shelter nonexistence of a quality assurance mechanism for teaching.

I look forward eagerly to estimates of the net social value created by these arrangements.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

2 thoughts on “Regulation and neighborhood housing price effects”

  1. I went to Berkeley in the 70s and was taught by some remarkable people. Esmond Snell, Melvin Calvin, Daniel Koshland, Donald Dahlsten, Evert Schlinger, Rapoport, Cason, Wood. Buddy of mine who has stayed in much better touch than I has been sending me obits as our mutual professors die – one of the things which is most striking to me is the number of these guys who were very conservative. The neighborhood has become a lot more uniform! and fewer questions are being raised about positivist data-based epistemology, etc.

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