Though the entire book builds toward [Sonja] Trauss’s political ascent, Dougherty ends with a tear-filled post-election party. Despite Dougherty’s compelling reporting on SFBARF and Trauss, his book’s ending feels less than satisfying. Perhaps a lack of resolution to Golden Gates is fitting for such a seemingly intractable problem as affordable housing. Dougherty was the right reporter in the right place to capture the human stories at the heart of this dreadful irony. Despite its setbacks, SFBARF may be the start of a political breakthrough—or it might just leave us with more luxury housing and vomiting anarchists.
... is both an empathetic portrait of all sides — legislators, developers, pro-housing and anti-gentrification activists — as well as a masterly primer on the fight for new construction in California ... Dougherty expertly explains the confluence of microeconomic and historical forces that have created a housing shortage so severe that it’s rendered the most prosperous state in the country the poorest when adjusted for cost of living. To challenge readers to consider how change might be achieved, he features two very different YIMBYs ... essential reading for every Californian, new or native. But will outsiders care? Dougherty’s introduction lays out why they should ... I wish he had continued to connect what’s happening in California with what’s going on elsewhere.
Golden Gates , a new book on the housing crisis by New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty, dives straight into these problems, skillfully exploring everything from the yes in my backyard (YIMBY) movement, which promotes more housing development, to anti-gentrification activism, the normalization of homelessness, and the factors that have made it so prohibitively expensive to build anything new ... Digging through the archives, Dougherty shows just how long California leaders have been aware of the housing crisis that the state faced if it didn’t alter course ... Yet a crucial question in Golden Gates remains unanswered: What can governments do to help those who need housing now without enacting policies that could make the situation worse in the long term, whether by exacerbating displacement and segregation or by contributing to an even more severe shortage down the road? ... 'Mixed solutions can feel like a cop-out,' Dougherty writes, 'especially in polarized times. And yet, over and over, in city after city, it’s always where people end up and what seems most likely to work.' He has a point. To move forward, movements will have to find ways to break out of their particular communities and build strength across class lines.
Reading Conor Dougherty's informative, evenly paced, but often too locally focused Golden Gate, I waited for solutions. I thought that Dougherty, an economics reporter for The New York Times, might point the way forward — something that has eluded activists and politicians alike for decades. But I quickly realized it wasn't going to be that easy. Dougherty, like many good reporters, doesn't traffic radical solutions or broad panaceas, but instead tells the story of housing in all its complexity. And, with it, he tells the story of people who have fought pyrrhic battles for the dignity of a roof over their heads ... while it expertly lays out the structural problems precluding affordable housing, the book's very local focus makes it seem too much about just the housing tragedy of the Bay Area. It faintly acts as an allegory of the national housing crisis — but you have to remind yourself continually that this is the case. It often evokes nostalgia, as if a love letter to a bygone Bay Area now struggling to keep its soul amidst the torrents of tech money relentlessly raining down on it ... The book's real strength is in the stories Dougherty tells of various activists, politicians and residents in their fight for fair housing.
... for a compelling and accessible overview of the state’s housing crisis, there is no better book than Conor Dougherty’s ... Mr. Dougherty has a gift for telling the stories of people struggling to overcome California’s housing dysfunction ... Absorbed in these narratives, the reader hardly realizes he is receiving an education on the political economy of California’s housing market.
The story of activist turned candidate for local office Sonja Trauss bookends this well-reported and well-documented, not to mention fascinating, treatment of a topic that Dougherty convincingly argues is critical to equity and stability in America ... Recommended for renters, owners, developers, and policymakers alike.
... [a] sympathetic profile of the city’s pro-growth, 'yes-in-my-backyard' movement ... The author’s embrace of YIMBY arguments may leave readers wondering if they’re perhaps getting the full picture of a global conundrum: London and Hong Kong, with very different political structures, suffer similar problems. Overall, an engrossing survey of one city’s housing politics.
... [an] incisive, character-driven debut ... Dougherty expertly weaves...individual stories into his overarching assessment of urban policy, and makes a convincing case for 'mixed' housing solutions that balance affordability, availability, and profit. Readers who assume there’s no solution to sky-high rents in America’s big cities should consult this detailed and optimistic counter-narrative.
While Dougherty provides plenty of macro-level research about housing across the nation—and especially in San Francisco—the major strength of the narrative occurs at the micro level. The author located individual players on various sides of housing debates, and he compares and contrasts their advocacy from diverse perspectives ... The narrative will be especially poignant and thought-provoking for readers who rely on nannies, home health aides, construction workers, landscapers, and other low-paid occupations—where will they reside? A readable, eye-opening exploration of 'what is fast becoming a national housing crisis.'