Open Letter to Peter Cohen of CCHO

Dear Peter,

During our debate last night, you repeatedly made assertions that the real problem was that YIMBYs are mean to people like you who have been in the housing game for a long time. You asserted that it was our divisive rhetoric that was the real problem.

You want me to stop calling you an anti-housing activist and a bad actor? Well, prove me wrong.

Propose legislation that increases funds for subsidized affordable housing. Propose something to speed up the entitlement process for affordable​ housing. Propose something to up-zone anti-housing neighborhoods for affordable housing.

Propose literally anything that will help subsidized housing defeat discriminatory neighborhood opposition, and I will sing your praises.

But so far, I have learned not to listen to what you say, but to judge you instead on what you do. Your revealed preference is clearly to fight the production of market rate housing, not to advance the movement of building more subsidized housing.

When a “moderate” politician proposes a policy that advances Affordable Housing, you place personal animosity above policy goals. For instance, you fought the removal of the Conditional Use requirement for Affordable Housing, until your own member organizations told you to cut it out.

And when you had the opportunity to propose your own state-wide legislation, what did you do? You tried to dismantle the entire State Density Bonus with your foolish AB 915, creating a loophole municipalities would have driven a truck through. The State Density Bonus is just getting started spurring the construction of both market rate and subsidized affordable housing across California. Why would you want to stop that?

You say that the only thing keeping you from getting involved in the pro-housing movement is that I’m obnoxious? If our tactics are all that’s keeping you from getting involved, then it shows you don’t really care about housing.

Let me be clear: it is my opinion that opposing market rate housing is not a good use of your resources and betrays true the mission of CCHO.

You are supposed to represent the interests of affordable housing developers and service providers. Your anti-market rate advocacy doesn’t help us build any more subsidized affordable, and instead induces demand for subsidized housing by ensuring that market rate housing continues to be expensive.

I look forward to cheering on any proposal from you that advances the production of subsidized affordable housing.

— Laura Foote Clark