Tuesday, April 22, 2008

California Attorney General advocates dense housing (except for himself)

What kind of housing should California build?

Will it be a resumption of the horizontal development that California has traditionally embraced, with new single-family subdivisions creeping outward from core cities and reached by automobile? Or will it be higher-density vertical development like that of Eastern cities (and San Francisco), served by mass transit?

The debate is not new but has gained volume because the advocates of vertical development – what Attorney General Jerry Brown describes as "elegant density" – have a new political lever in global warming.

Brown is waging a crusade for his development vision, something of a throwback to the "small is beautiful" credo he sometimes espoused as governor three decades ago – although his personal commitment is somewhat suspect since he and his wife, citing crime fears, moved from an urban loft in Oakland to a comfortable home in the Oakland hills after he took office last year.