Opinion: Keep government out of the housing business

Re “San Diego proposing 10,000 new housing units on 300 acres of public land” (Sept. 18): For the past half-century, San Diego officials have complained of a rental housing crisis, low availability and high rents.

The story on the front page explains why. Years of regulations drove the development cost of housing for lower-income and middle-income families to $550,000 per unit. Now the city plans to use its valuable land and regulatory advantages to undercut developers by almost half for 10,000 new units.

Will this work? When visiting the housing agency in Prague in 1980, still under central planning, the waiting list for an apartment (50 square meters, typically housing three generations) was 18 years. When I returned a decade later I asked for an update. “We’ve knocked a year off the queue” was the optimistic reply. “So it’s down to 17 years?” I asked. “No, 27 years” was the reply.

Kevin Villani
La Jolla

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