It seems my recent letter ("The affordable housing myth," Nov. 2) offended some readers due to my repeated reference to many of our neighbors as "lefties." If you found that word offensive, it wasn't meant to be and I apologize for any hurt feelings. It was merely a shortcut to describe the political leaning (Democrat, liberal, progressive, socialist) of most folks in our community.
Thinking about that impact yet wanting to move forward with the conversation and still needing to describe those folks, I came up with a few alternatives that I think might be better.
How about, "Quality Citizens with a Left-Leaning Ideology" (QuCLLI)? Or Great Neighbors that Look to Government to Solve their Problems (GNLGSP)? Then there's my favorite, Caring Folks Seeking a Better Quality of Life (CFSBQL)? Of course, none of these roll off the tongue like "lefties," but for the purpose of this letter I'll use my favorite, CFSBQL (pronounced ci-fis'-bqul).
In a response to my letter, one reader challenged my assertion ("Careful, or everyone will be labeled a 'lefty,'" Nov. 9) that "most residents in SLO city are [CFSBQL]." Does anyone really doubt that? Was the election of Heidi Harman, an extreme CFSBQL, an accident? Did Donald Trump carry the city in last year's election? Was the post-election Women's March a show of support for Trump? I rest my case that the majority of folks in SLO are CFSBQL.
In another response ("Affordable housing is not a partisan issue," Nov. 9), a reader wanted to know where I suggest "the 'lefties' who work as police and firemen in SLO ... should live?" First of all I don't think of police or firemen as CFSBQL. Rather, I think of them as quality, public servants and sincerely believe it would be helpful if they could afford to live in the community where they work.
And finally, Barbara Alward accused me of being a bully ("The capitalist caste system," Nov. 9) who needs to shift to "a positive attitude and caring demonstration for those less fortunate who have every right to reside in our high-end communities." Since Ms. Alward doesn't know me, I must assume she is merely projecting her biases. Of course, I believe everyone has the right to reside wherever they want, except sometimes they just can't afford it.
That's right, some of us can afford to live on Ocean Boulevard in Shell Beach while others find themselves living in a more affordable, mobile home park. Affluent folks can always own nicer homes than those who are financially challenged. I grew up in New York City only 6 miles from Donald Trump's neighborhood. No, I didn't know him, but with our family living in an "Archie Bunker" style home, we knew we could only dream about living in his neighborhood. I didn't complain about it or envy his good fortune. Instead, I worked hard all my life and today, though my home isn't lined with gold, I have a great life. I regularly count my blessings.
So here's what I do believe: Supply will always catch up to demand in a free enterprise environment. Builders will always figure out how to build apartments and homes to meet the needs of renters and buyers so long as they believe they can earn a profit. So there should be enough housing in our community for the rich, the working poor, and everyone in between except for the interference of government. Yes, government is the cause of our housing imbalance.
Our government makes it expensive, through fees and permits, to build in our community, bringing up the cost of housing. Our government makes it difficult to impossible to convert agricultural land for housing thus increasing the cost to acquire what precious land is available. Our government, through rules, like required off-street parking, makes it more difficult and more expensive to build. I could go on, but it's our government that's the problem. And who exactly is "our government"? It's those folks elected by the CFSBQL in our community.
Finally, on a more personal note, I believe in free enterprise and property rights and would never interfere with real estate development that meets the housing needs of our community. But I do have to thank the CFSBQL for their slow-growth agenda. I've lived in this county for 25 years and appreciate the quality of life that slow growth enables. Having arrived from New York City via Los Angeles for the purpose of a better life, I relish the beauty and ease of access to everything, and I hope it never changes. I recognize I made it to this paradise while others are challenged to do the same. But if you really want more housing, you'll first need to change your government with folks that support a pro-growth agenda and be willing to accept a community more like Los Angeles. And when that happens, I'll, once again, be leaving for a better place. Δ
Gary Wechter is a retired businessman, conservative, and enthusiastic Trump supporter living in Arroyo Grande. Send comments through the editor at email@example.com or write a letter for publication and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.