It occurred to me after reading the opinion pieces here last week by Jim Larimer and David Eblovi that a possible scientific solution to the persistent housing crisis might be at hand. I should point out, however, that the housing crisis has several root causes among which are the cost of new housing, excess population and inefficient use of existing housing stock. Here I will focus on the latter point.

At the core of the inefficient use of existing housing stock is the selfish and irresponsible assumption that one can occupy as much housing space as one wants and can afford. Obviously, this is a blatant misuse of freedom that excludes others from proper housing who then may be relegated to sub-optimal living conditions. It is clear from observations around the community that there are many large homes each occupied by very few people, sometimes only one or two. These homes could easily accommodate more people and thus reduce the amount of costly new housing construction. The question then arises as to how the problem of housing inefficiency can be solved.

The first step is to identify appropriate experts in the field of housing inefficiency most likely to be found as newly minted assistant professors. By supplying sufficient grant money, they can collect and analyze data from around the world with regard to how much space an individual needs to be comfortably housed. The use of statistical models such as those which predict the future price of precious metals or which undergird the climate models will certainly provide incontrovertible scientific conclusions that can be used by policy makers to create housing occupancy guidelines. Perhaps evidence could be found pointing to how many annual deaths can be attributed to the deliberate misuse of freedom that causes housing inefficiency.

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that access to 300 square feet of total living space is scientifically determined to be sufficient for a single individual. Thus, a 3,000-square-foot house, which is relatively common in our area, could accommodate 10 people. The 300 square feet would include private space as well as that deriving from access to communal kitchen and bathroom space. The bottom line here is that everyone would be assigned the same amount of space without exception.

Clearly, experts would have to derive formulas that would take into account space for families. Other formulas could be developed to take into consideration past societal wrongs committed against certain groups and how this could affect space allotments. Housing equity would be achieved. The irresponsible and selfish exercise of freedom would be curtailed. It is even quite possible that positive environmental and climate benefits could be realized.

Of course, the big challenge would be convincing those occupying more than their scientifically allotted space to change their ways and follow the rules. One approach would be to offer gift cards, lottery tickets or outright cash incentives in order to increase occupancy in underutilized homes. More could be done to provide intensive education both in the community and in the schools regarding social responsibility and the selfish misuse of freedom. Those who adopt the new standards would be rewarded with special cards that would allow access to various places and events. People living in more than their scientifically allotted space could be excluded from community activities and venues. The potential use of mandates should not be overlooked. Obviously, panels of experts will have to be convened to study, discuss and provide scientifically sound recommendations for the incentivization problem.

I realize that what I have proposed here is a bit outside the mainstream but is consistent with much current thought and discussion regarding various societal issues. Obviously, everyone must contribute their fair share to solve these problems. I believe that what I have proposed is a step in the right direction regarding housing equity.

Eugene D. Thorsett lives in Half Moon Bay.

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(12) comments

John Charles Ullom

This is great discussion. For consideration:

Let us say a Coastside property owner decides she wants to build a fourplex, nah, and eightplex, on a lot located on your block. How would that effect the algorithm?

We have serious lack of respect for property rights on the Coastside. Developers who want to build non conformist housing are routinely vilified. Property owners are often denied the right to use their property in the manner they see fit by people who have different vision for the use of that property.

Zoning laws are often used to stifle the desires of property owners. Not only here, pretty much everywhere. I am sure none of you would oppose the development of property in your neighborhoods. None of you would impose your standards on size, setbacks, colors, parking, or well anything.

Here is a link to a story about the left win commie big brother knows best eco whacko organization that abhors the private property rights of others. You know the type. Say one thing and do another: --

Promote Density! Let the market decide!! End confiscatory zoning laws!! Ban planning commissions. Make the Coastside Great Again!!!

Tyler Durden

You never know with this guy how much is sarcasm or not. And that is what makes him ineffective. I would like to buy the lot next to where he lives and then build a gas station on it. Is he ok with that? Zoning laws are social norms. Some people argue that social norms should be ignored. Is that what is being argued here? BTW, Here is a social norm: Do not throw hot tea on someone you disagree with. Should we ignore that social norm also?

John Charles Ullom

"You never know with this guy how much is sarcasm or not."

Exactly! Made you think. Than your!!

"Zoning laws are social norms."

Social norms sound like leftist's social engineering. Those norms have been concocted by both liberals and conservatives for the purpose of imposing their desires on others. They don't even get that their opposition is using the same tactics as they use to oppress the distracted masses.

"Some people argue that social norms should be ignored."

That is true. Some people argue that expecting an American to consider the impact of their actions on others is no longer a social norm. Are you saying that all of us have a say in how you use your private property? Did not an abundance of that kind of elitism get us into the Beachwood fiasco?

There is almost always an ism behind social norms. Some say taking the vaccine, AKA Ruminant Knowitallism, is a social norm. Other say going bareback, AKA Sovereign Citizenism, is the best way. Social norms are kind of funny. Where they come from and why they exist is often a mystery. Often social norms are detrimental. It used to be a social norm that colored folks used different facilities than pale folk. It used to be a norm to ostracize homosexuals. It used to be a norm that authority was respected.

I don't think you have thought through your argument. But I do appreciate that you got the point of mine! [cool]



Patrick McKee

"For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that access to 300 square feet of total living space is scientifically determined to be sufficient for a single individual." So, would it be OK if "we" assembled a commitee and came to your house to make sure you are only using your allotted 300 square feet of needed space? :-) :-)

Tyler Durden

Packing multiple families, cousins, and boarders into single family homes resulting in 10 or more cars out front is already being done all over the Coastside, thereby achieving the author's desire for increased density.

Steve Hyman

There was Prop 90/60 and it’s replacement Prop 19 that allows homes from empty nesters be sold to new younger families who can more effectively utilize the larger space and allow the old occupants to move to a smaller home and still retain their property tax values now anywhere in the state.

Without this, many seniors would never move out of their home for fear of paying higher property taxes.

This allows homes to be recycled without the need to build more large ones.

Another Concerned Citizen

I wish there were a way to tell (1) how many readers took this seriously, (2) how many of those who took it seriously agreed or disagreed with the proposal, and (3) how many readers recognized it as well-written satire. We really need a scientific way to measure just how woke this town really is. The observational approach says "extremely woke" but I want hard numbers!


Maybe you and Mr McVicker are right and we have another Andy Borowitz (only local) on our hands.

I hope so.

Scott McVicker

Long form satire. Excellent work. It reads beautifully.

Patrick McKee



Perhaps I am misunderstanding the author’s point or intent, but what I understand the author to mean already exists.

We see it around the world - in places like North Korea, Russia, China and so many more.

It appears the author either doesn’t get the meaning of capitalism, or just plain doesn’t like it.

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