In an orgy of self-congratulation, local and regional elected officials gathered on Friday, January 25, to break ground on a government-related, low-income housing project in Orinda. The ceremony took place at 2 Irwin Way in Orinda, where the housing will be built. The site is across the street from the Safeway and Citibank.
The housing project will create, by 2015, 67 apartments for low-income senior citizens. There will be about 30 parking spaces. The housing will be built by Eden Housing of Hayward, California. The project may violate Orinda’s downtown height limit of 35 feet.
Already, plenty of trees have been cut down to construct the housing.
Present at the January 25 ceremony were Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez), Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), and Amy Worth, mayor of Orinda. Ms. Worth is also vice chairperson of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), an unelected government body which sets toll rates on Bay Area bridges.
The Irwin Way project took 11 years to plan. The housing itself will be built by union labor, raising the construction price by at least 20 percent.
Without government involvement, presumably fewer than 11 years would have been needed to plan to project. Needy senior citizens may not have 11 years to wait.
According to existing law, cities in California are required to build housing for low-income people. If a given city fails to comply, government entities can cut off funds for servicing that city’s roads.
Conceptually, the whole idea of having government involved in the building of low-income housing is flawed. For example, there is no guarantee that needy senior citizens will want to live at the Irwin Way location, which is in a noisy, crowded part of downtown Orinda.
The solution to needy persons’ housing needs is to give needy people money — money which can come from taxes or charity.
Let needy people themselves determine where they want to live. Government should stay out of the way.