15 April 2001

"Oh, well, perhaps one has to be very old before 
one learns to be amused rather than shocked."
      -Pearl S. Buck

It's still unseasonably cool in my neck of the northern woods, and I've naturally been thinking about warmer climes. Say, like southern California, where my house might one day take a slushy header down a steep embankment into the ocean, but I'll never have to wear mittens, gloves, hat, and coat to shovel myself out of it.

There's just one small catch -- I don't think I can afford it. Currently, I live in a relatively small town (population=21,000, houses=7,200) where the average house costs $370,000 (these are Taxachusetts dollars), and the average income is $100,000 (I'm sure more than one person works in almost every home). Even with these enormous numbers, people seem to have enough scratch to periodically re-paint, landscape, and re-model, so as to keep the values up and themselves happy in their middle-class enclave.

Be that as it may, I've just stumbled across a startling fact. Woodside, California, a tiny (population 5,600) town nestled in the Silicon Valley duked it out with the state over the law requiring at least sixteen "affordable housing" units. The rent charged for a one-bedroom apartment had to be $870 or less in order to be compliant with the law. The citizens of this rich community thought it over, and finally reached what they felt was an equable solution: local horse farmers are now allowed to subdivide their barns into one-bedroom apartments for the cash-strapped, low-income seekers. In this fashion, the community would be spared having to use precious town real estate to accommodate people who they clearly think of as unsavory elements.

Works for them. If not in the spirit, certainly in the letter of the law.

Like I say, I'd love to live in a warmer place, but somehow the California sunshine doesn't feel quite as hospitable as I expected it to.

Excuse me. I have to put on my hat and gloves.


No comments: