California Housing: Force Isn’t the Solution

by | Aug 23, 2022

In 2024, voter in Los Angeles will vote on an initiative that would force hotel operators to rent vacant rooms to the city’s homeless.

In 2024, voter in Los Angeles will vote on an initiative that would force hotel operators to rent vacant rooms to the city’s homeless. Despite what voters might think, force isn’t the solution to the city’s homeless problem.

California has long allowed voters to dictate how property owners can use their property. As a result, the state is home to some of the most anti-development land-use regulations in the country. Developers and builders must spend years pleading with government officials to receive permission to build the housing that California desperately needs. The cost of meeting government regulations inflates the price of housing and has made housing unaffordable to a growing number of Californians.

On the one hand, voters have used force to prohibit development and the construction of housing. On the other hand, some want to use force to solve the housing crisis in California. Force isn’t the solution to a problem caused by force. The solution is to remove the force and restore freedom.

Californians must reject the idea that everything is subject to a vote. The state has become the epitome of democracy—the majority can do as it pleases merely because it is the majority. In a democracy, the majority is allowed to limit development, prohibit cable television (Californians once voted to do so), force hotels to house the homeless, or anything else that can attract enough votes. Democracy is legalized mob rule.

The purpose of democratic force is to “convince” individuals to act differently than they would voluntarily choose. Those who don’t act as the majority thinks appropriate are subject to fines, jail, or both. They are threatened with the loss of their property, their freedom, or both if they do not comply.

Many think of California as a state that welcomes a diverse range of opinions and lifestyles. While the state may claim to welcome diversity, the fact remains that the “will of the people”—the majority—can and does limit the actions that are legally permissible. In California, you are free to live as you choose, so long as the majority approves.

Force created California’s housing crisis. More force isn’t the solution. It will only make the problem worse.

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Brian Phillips is the founder of the Texas Institute for Property Rights. Brian has been defending property rights for nearly thirty years. He played a key role in defeating zoning in Houston, Texas, and in Hobbs, New Mexico. He is the author of three books: Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, The Innovator Versus the Collective, and Principles and Property Rights. Visit his website at texasipr.com.

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