New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty parses the history and economic forces that underlie our national housing crisis from its epicenter in San Francisco, profiling activists with San Francisco Bay Area Renters' Federation, politicians, and developers. As rising rents and home prices have spread across the country, massive movements against single-family zoning and for tenants' rights have followed.
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.