Government Watch / Politics

Joel Kotkin: Evangelist for Saving Our Suburbs

AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan

democrat

As part of their ploy to remake American society and secure a permanent political majority, the progressive left has in recent years launched a largely under-the-radar assault on a staple of the American Dream – single-family homes. Under the guise of addressing “climate change” and “systemic racism,” far left politicians in liberal cities and now at the federal level have sought to both prevent the construction of more single-family units and replace existing single-family homes with multi-family housing complexes. Single-family homes are the typical suburban homes found in neighborhoods across America, and are usually owned rather than rented. Conversely, multi-family units house more than one family (like apartment buildings or condos) and are usually rented.

In eliminating single-family homes, progressives are hopeful that an increasingly urbanized America will share the liberal economic and social values of most large cities, handing progressive politicians perennial control of the halls of power. The primary tool used by the far left to accomplish this goal is control of local zoning laws, which designate certain areas for either single-family or multi-family construction projects. Last year, Oregon and Minnesota became the first states to essentially ban single-family zoning altogether, followed soon by California and Maryland. Oftentimes, legislators at the state level have overridden local zoning commissions, ignoring the desires of communities who don’t want multi-family complexes nearby.

The cost of such policies is the independence and economic freedom that comes with owning a home – and the right of people to have a say in what type of community they want to live in. As this liberal crusade gains momentum, conservatives have entered the fold to oppose it, exposing what has largely been a covert effort on the part of the far-left. As the battle for the suburbs heats up, no one has been more involved in exposing the dangers of abolishing single-family zoning than writer and thinker Joel Kotkin.

Kotkin, a Presidential Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and the Executive Director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, has written extensively on the progressive crusade to wipe out suburban America by eliminating single-family zoning.  He is the author of several books, including The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (2020), in which he claims “We are inexorably returning towards a more feudal era marked by greater concentration of wealth and property, reduced upward mobility, demographic stagnation, and increased dogmatism.”

In an interview with AMAC Newsline, Kotkin warned that the growing movement to reverse single-family zoning does not help “anyone but developers” and, in essence, amounts to “a political movement to get rid of the middle class,” which could in turn transform the United States into a nation of renters and hand big-government progressives a permanent political majority.

Kotkin fears that progressives are seeking to achieve a nation of “propertyless millennials” who will “keep voting for as many goodies as they can extract from the state, because they have nothing of their own.” Should their plan succeed—perhaps with the aid of well-intentioned deregulatory-minded libertarians—Kotkin cautions that “no conservative will ever get elected, ever”—citing the likelihood that young renters who do not intend to purchase a home will almost always vote Democrat.

When asked about efforts in California to overturn Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent zoning law through a statewide ballot initiative, Kotkin suggested there are few reasons for optimism. “The problem that is beginning to evolve,” he said, is that “California is just about majority-renters now.”

“In those areas where renters are 60 percent of the electorate, I don’t know how you change it,” he continued, even though there may be “resistance in a lot of the single-family areas.”

“Dispersion of property is the guarantor of democracy,” Kotkin went on. “But what we’re going to get is the concentration of property, and what you end up with is you really don’t have enough people in certain areas who will push back. The only hope that single-family home neighborhoods have is that the places that are regulated this way don’t have a lot of growth, so maybe there won’t be a lot of pressure.”

Predicting that older couples living in close proximity to newly constructed urban apartment complexes will be inclined to move further out of cities, Kotkin says that “you couldn’t come up with a better policy to make cities dysfunctional. But dysfunctional cities tend to be progressive cities—the more dysfunctional, the more progressive—until there’s some sort of pushback. But who knows whether that will happen?”

Kotkin points to today’s historically high home prices in most cities as evidence of socialists, capitalists, and libertarians “working on the same wavelength” to “buy up everything they can buy up and turn everybody into renters” because “that guarantees them cashflow in the economy that probably won’t grow very rapidly anyway.”

The “combination” of progressives and libertarians, Kotkin said, is “deadly for the middle class” in America today. “The rich will get richer,” he continued, “and everyone else will be turned into a serf. That’s where we’re headed, unless people wake up.” Yet, as Kotkin notes, the entities most aggressively pushing to phase out the suburbs under the guise of so-called “zoning reform” are “very well-organized” and “very well-funded” and “get whatever media spin they want”—a reality that does not bode well for the future of single-family homes in urban areas.

Kotkin is confident the progressive campaign to effectively destroy America’s suburbs will continue to spread throughout the nation, thanks in large part to President Joe Biden. Biden, Kotkin said, was elected “as a moderate but has governed as a leftist,” and has “allowed the far left of his party” to essentially take over at a time when they have “no strong majority.” Kotkin believes Biden political appointees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development will inevitably reinstate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, a provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act that was rescinded by President Donald Trump to prevent a federal takeover of local control of zoning.  Progressives in the Biden administration, Kotkin predicts, “are going to try to bring something that is more reminiscent of the old communist city than anything else.”

Though Kotkin remains by and large pessimistic about the future of single-family zoning in highly populated urban centers, he noted that there is perhaps a silver lining for conservatives on the national level—at least in the near future.

“I think the Biden administration, in what is the umpteenth incredibly stupid political move, is going to push this agenda, and they’re going to wonder, ‘Why are suburban parents voting against us?’” As Kotkin points out, suburbanites want “good schools, public safety, access to parks, and single-family houses… so I think there’s going to be a lot of pushback on this, and I think the Democrats—if they keep doing this—will eventually lose a lot of the middle class” and cause working class voters to move to less densely populated states.

“It’s all going to fall apart—probably next November,” Kotkin concluded. If Joe Biden and his far-left handlers both in the administration and in Congress continue down the same tumultuous path that has already cost them the Virginia Governor’s Mansion, there is little doubt the American people will take notice. And that, above all else, might be the suburbs’ best hope.

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Eamonn Thomas Smyth
14 days ago

One of things Mrs. Thatcher did when she became Primeminister of the UK was to give those who lived in Council house (Project housing ) was to let them buy their homes at a low cost. So what has this to do with the article. If people own their own homes they become more responsible citizens and give them a sense of pride, that’s the opposite of what the progressive’s wing of the Dems. want!.

Nick
15 days ago

Hey, listen, I really understand wanting to live in a neighborhood where only *you* can afford housing. For example, my neighborhood in Los Angeles is way too expensive for any of you to afford, so I don’t have to deal with any of you plebes in this comment thread.

MOCountry
15 days ago
Reply to  Nick

Many of us wouldn’t live in los angeles even if we were given a house in your neighborhood or any other one in kalifornicate!

Lynn
15 days ago

After these elitist creeps build apartments they will inevitably need more “affordable housing” for whomever they favor–notably illegal aliens. I can see them then wanting to do the Soviet Communist thing of making single family homeowners subdivide their homes to accommodate people who won’t have to pay rent either. Am I being too paranoid and crazy? Not.

Joanne 4 justice
15 days ago
Reply to  Lynn

Yes give the illegal aliens EVERYTHING so that they will STUPIDLY VOTE FOR COMMUNISM !!!!!!!

Eddie Van Halen
16 days ago

Outskirts of Chicago are Cicero / Berwyn. Great Chicago suburbs. But not any more. A great place to carry a gun and 4 – 10 round clips. Did I mention body armor ?

Momcat
16 days ago

The Obama admin already made it near impossible for our kids to own a home. When obamacare let kids stay on their parents’ insurance til 26, few kids did anything to get a job that offered insurance. Many just stayed in mom’s basement, playing video games, doing menial jobs to buy games, pot,& beer. We’re dealing with a grandkid with the same mindset. why do anything when the govt will do it for you?

Momcat
16 days ago

sadly, renters do not care about the apartment they live in, the neighborhood, or the city. drive through any neighborhood & you can easily pick out the rent houses. the more rent houses, the worse the neighborhood. there are still HOA’s that will not let you rent out your house. It’s impossible to get any rules changed in an HOA, let’s see if they change.

Tim Toroian
16 days ago

They want to build Soviet-style rectangular apartment buildings so they get rid of cars and have people live within walking distance of their jobs. When they are they will make people move.

B. Schmidt
16 days ago

“Kotkin warned that the growing movement to reverse single-family zoning does not help “anyone but developers” and, in essence, amounts to “a political movement to get rid of the middle class,” which could in turn transform the United States into a nation of renters and hand big-government progressives a permanent political majority.”

I’m confused here. If Kotkin supposes that there will no longer be anything but renters in the future, who will they rent from if there are no more owners? In order to rent a property, there must be owners who rent to renters. Not everyone wishes to live in the close environment afforded by apartments, and IMO there will always be a market for single-family residential property.

Carol
16 days ago
Reply to  B. Schmidt

Big companies are buying up single-family homes and those companies rent at outrageous amounts! A lot of folks that don’t own a home now, can’t afford to own and a lot can’t afford the rent either. I think you will see more tent cities cropping up with middle class families cuz housing is getting unaffordable for so many. Then government comes along, putting all these folks in government housing creating more serfs to the government! Yes there will always be owners but most of them will be rich leftists who only rent to other leftists!

Eddie Van Halen
16 days ago
Reply to  Carol

Realtors have told me that it is cheaper to BUY a home ( for now ) than it is to rent ! ! !

Momcat
16 days ago
Reply to  B. Schmidt

the govt, of course, will own everything.

Mimi
16 days ago
Reply to  B. Schmidt

B. Schmidt, what’s going to happen is single family homes will skyrocket in price because you can’t build them anymore. In the beginning this will be good for retirees who are downsizing. However, they will end up having to live in apartment buildings because there won’t be any lower cost housing available. Eventually, families won’t be able to afford single family homes in nice neighborhoods, so developers will buy up the ones for sale, with low cost loans and government subsidies (that our tax dollars pay for), and they will build apartment buildings all over the place and control how much rent you pay, thereby controlling where you can live. Oh God in heaven help us!!

edward
15 days ago
Reply to  B. Schmidt

The owner will be the state ala soviet style that is the goal.

Becky
16 days ago

I just have no sympathy for the suburban fools who have been voting progressively for decades. Let them pay for their endless stupidity. Maybe it will straighten their thinking out.
But as to the rest?
None of what’s going on has been covert. The UN long ago put out Agenda21. The ultimate goal of that IS Communist living throughout America. These elite bas Turds want ALL the land and ALL the resources. Thinking logically that means vacate ALL the land. Therefore, these nasty pushes to force everyone into apartments. China style living in America. Several years back a land-use map was put out to go along with Agenda21. No one living west of Lake Michigan. Few living anywhere with land at all. City dwellers. Locked into China’s 8 x 10 foot apartments! THAT is what the ‘ruling’ bad Turds want. We get over crowded cities full of Communism. The elites get everything else. It was all laid out quite clearly.
And for the record, will people STOP saying biden was elected!!! He WAS NOT ELECTED.
Biden was PLANTED as the the next Communist stooge following Barack, the jihadi.

Eddie Van Halen
15 days ago
Reply to  Becky

And D. T. needed to get the UN out of here as one of his first moves. Nothing but a den of spies.

Morbious
15 days ago
Reply to  Becky

When the stark truth is seen, righteous anger is justified. Anything less indicates the truth being viewed through gauze. I always look for your comments.

HocasPocas
15 days ago
Reply to  Becky

Becky, it may do you better to study what you write about instead of assuming that you know how I vote. I live in the suburbs and I haven’t voted for a democrat since before Clinton and I don’t think there are many others who do either

Myrna
16 days ago

Many die Hard democrats believe suburban women all voted against President Trump.
Maybe they were influenced to hate him but when the plot to take away property rights becomes known, they could change their minds. If the plans of the left are disguised as ideal, the left will get away with this.
The sorting out of media coverage by left and right may keep the suburban woman from knowing this is coming until it is too late.
If people look for facts and steer away from opinion, there is a better chance the vote will be for a better future.

Eddie Van Halen
15 days ago
Reply to  Myrna

One of the factors in that 2020 election debacle was the “independent” or CONFUSED voters.
Some women voted against Trump because they did not like his “style.”
Hey STUPIDS, he was getting the job DONE ! ! ! Dufooses ! ! !

edward
15 days ago

“useful idiots”

HocasPocas
15 days ago
Reply to  Myrna

When Trump had his rallies, thousands showed up in all areas. You people need to get your heads out of the sand and look around. The election was a criminal hijack by the left and their elitists. Biden couldn’t get more than twenty people to attend his so called rallies and over half were Trump supporters there to heckle him. Don’t try to persuade me or anyone else that the suburban people/women voted for the bumbling idiot

Morbious
16 days ago

Most of the people i discuss this with are blissfully unaware. There’re a few who listen but i can sense doubt that anyone could think the way the left does. I fear this will just happen and millions of uninvolved young suburbanites will be faced with section eight apartments sprouting on their doorstep. Theres another very devious aspect here and that is that the single family houses adjacent to multifamily apartments will lose value instantly, trapping their owners in place. All part of the plan.

edward
15 days ago
Reply to  Morbious

you are absolutely right! when obama was campaigning for his first term I said he was a “socialist at best, a communist more likely”. conservatives that I told this to didn’t think that could ever be the case in this country. for decades I have heard conservatives say, “that could never happen here”.
they were and are wrong.

Morbious
15 days ago
Reply to  edward

Yes, many submitted to his soaring rhetoric. A quick peek into his background revealed all, but too few cared. As beck said at the time, there had never been a pivot point. Therefore he was still a commie. Simple as that.

Mandy
16 days ago

Americans, including AMAC, need to wake up to why they are really doing this and it is to implement more Communist tactics. This one would get rid of homeownership.

Patriot Bill
16 days ago

Without lawful and legitimate elections the Marxists WILL WIN in 2022

Becky
16 days ago
Reply to  Patriot Bill

Unless we show up and guard our polls.

Sherry Derrico
15 days ago
Reply to  Becky

WHY have the domenion voting machines not been replaced? People in office said this would be done first. Not as of yet they haven’t. How do they secure the votes when they won’t replace these machines that were shown to of been manipulated by other Countries.

Patriot Will
16 days ago

When Kotkin says, “Dispersion of Property is the guarantor of democracy,” we get a very good insight into the importance of single family homes in helping this country stay freedom loving and competitive. Home and land independence encourages the homeowners to be more self reliant and independent of government control. Of course, the socialists and communists do not care for these concepts. They do not care for a country full of proud home and land owners. They want the citizens to be mild tempered and meek. The goal is to have citizens more easily controlled by a strong central government. Individual freedoms and liberties become secondary to the health of the state.
Individual rights become individual luxuries, and the elitists who control the state become greedy, self-serving miscreants.

Mandy
16 days ago
Reply to  Patriot Will

Thank God to read another person who is aware of what is truly going on under the Biden/Obama administration. Read up on how Communists act and learn. A lot can be found in the book “You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists).pdf, This book can be found for free online by searching the title. The first 20 pages or so are slow reading but after that, I couldn’t put the book down. An updated hard copy by David Noebel titled “You Can STILL Trust the Communists (to be Communists.) can be purchased online
This book reminded me about Bill Clinton’s desire to visit Russia and Russia allowed him in. This book states the USSR only allowed those to visit that they believed they could use and then remember, they gave permission for Bill Clinton to visit when he was a Rhodes scholar.
Bernie Sanders was able to visit. People should ask, why were these two men were so infatuated with Russia.
Obama also has Communism in his upbringing. Remember Obama and Michelle hung Mao Christmas ornaments on the White House tree and no one made a big deal out it because the media covered for them.
Open borders policy is part of it also as the US wouldn’t know how many schools, hospitals etc we would need with open borders, it would create chaos, bring down the country and the open borders crowd would rebuild as the desired totalitarian country they want. The Covid-19
pandemic should put the Democrat’s open borders policy to rest forever but it hasn’t. In fact, under Joe Biden, the number of illegals flooding across our southern border is worse than any time in the past 21 years. They are coming without masks or Covid vaccines. We need borders and we need them secured.
Several years ago it was noted that Cuba released their people in jail, flew them to Mexico so they could come across our southern border and into the US. No telling how many other countries are doing this now. It has been reported it is not just Hispanics but Muslims and all nationalities flooding across our borders these days. We have to stop being ignorant of what is occurring right in front of our eyes.
These Dems are working to destroy our country by creating chaos (Antifa) as well as attempting to remove history by tearing down statues and renaming schools. They have already taken over education. The outline for what is happening now is in the book I noted above.
I have to assume that our news media and the leaders of the media corporations have either been bought off or threatened. Remember Seth Rich.
We have no time to waste.

oren
16 days ago

I’m 75 heading for 76. I’m what some refer to a “War Baby”, someone born during and immediately after WW2. My values are firmly based on the “upbringing” of very conservative parents. I value my individuality, hard work and my faith in an ever present God. My personally built my home. I laid the foundation and block work myself. I framed the two story 3000 square foot home, installed the wiring and plumbing myself. I subcontracted portions based on my experience as a Construction Manager for a major Engineering and Construction firm. All of these activities define me. Under no circumstance will I allow a bunch of malcontents in this country to modify my way of living. They can kiss my ever loving…..

Dennis
16 days ago

I can see concrete evidence that this is happening literally on my doorstep. A large developer has exercised his considerable influence within about 50 yards of my mortgage free single family home.With the blessing of city council and the promise of enlarging the tax base the developer has “out-lawyered” the local civic league and everyone else opposed to the “urbanization” of this once great city.

Becky
16 days ago
Reply to  Dennis

Sad. How very sad. And no one caught the problem?

teresa
16 days ago

stay out of the burbs you lunatics

David Phillips Cole
16 days ago

Some people are so void of common sense that they think their new way of doing change is beneficial. The Biden and Green agenda has lost almost all contact with the reality and history of what has made American such creative and freedom loving and responsible people.

teresa
16 days ago

they have no idea of right from wrong, good from evil, why don’t these clowns go on an island and make a mess there. the supporters should be ashamed of themselves too

mike
16 days ago
Reply to  teresa

exactly, their supporters (news media/ neighbors/etc) should take responsibility for what their have supported.

Elysummers
16 days ago

They plain don’t care.

Rhonda
16 days ago

I agree a lot of people don’t have common sense, but I don’t think that is the case here. All of the things happening now and in the last 75 years or so are in the playbook ‘How to Turn a Republic into a Socialist/Communist Country’. I think they know exactly what they are doing.

Eddie Van Halen
15 days ago
Reply to  Rhonda

With these postings here, it seems most of these folks do NOT understand what you stated, Rhonda.

Eddie Van Halen
15 days ago

Bye-then’s “gang” knows EXACTLY what they are doing. Dismantling a Constitutional Republic.
Pay attention. This is NOT a “democracy.” A demo-cratic form of voting ? Yes. With checks and balances which the ( D ) communists want to eliminate so they can STAY in power forever.

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