Getting Crowded Around Here
By Person of the Planet Shirley A. Lutzky
Lately, I have become increasingly puzzled about the intense construction activity going on in our neighborhood of North Oakland, as well as in many areas of the East Bay. It does not seem to be more affordable housing - for which there is a true need - that is rising up, but rather it seems to be high-cost luxury condos. And it seems that every day our area becomes more and more crowded. For the first time in forty years, it's getting so I can't even just drive out of my street without a very long wait because of the flow of traffic that blocks the entrance to the court (no stop sign either way). And once I do leave, it's bumper to bumper all the way to a freeway or main thoroughfare, and then probably more of the same awaits me there. Will the increase of high-cost housing never cease? Do developers have the right to crowd those who already live in a community? And is this good for the air, for the soil, for the planet?
So I was happy the other day to find an article by Matt Williams in a past Sierra Club Yodeler (S.C.'s local newspaper) on this topic, giving the Sierra Club's views concerning more housing in neighborhoods like my own, which they refer to as "Priority Development Areas". I knew before that both local and state officials were in favor of high growth in cities, and I heard a bit of their rationale on NPR (rationale which I heard only as evidence of officials being friends with developers and of wanting more tax money) but I never realized that this growth was backed by environmentalists. The article gave some food for thought. I still have to look into this topic much, much more to really know where I will stand. But this article was a start. Maybe many or even most of you already know this story, but hopefully it will shed some light for others of you who have been as puzzled about this situation as I have been.