Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ahh, discrimination

Brandon (the town in which I live) has a new ordinance stating that new homes can't be below a certain square footage... something like 1400 square feet for high-residency areas and 1400 square feet in low-residency areas.

Let me start by saying I think that's unbelievably stupid, and the government really ought to mind their own business and get their noses out of the business of private landowners. Thank you, that's all.

However, a few groups are up in arms because they believe that this is discriminatory against minorities. You know what's discriminatory against minorities? Saying that they can't afford 1400 square foot houses.

There are three phases in my neighborhood. Phases 1 and 2 have houses that are as small as 1200 square feet, but the newest phase, phase 3, isn't allowing houses lower than 1800 square feet. (That, I don't think is stupid, because it's not the government getting all up in the business of private landowners. If a guy has a giant plot of land and decides to build 400-square-feet efficiency homes, that's his dang business, and it's not hurting anyone in the neighborhood.) The landowner decided this before the ordinance.

Phase 3 has a lot of really, really nice houses, many more expensive than mine - I think they're all above $165K. Phase 3 is also made up of probably 30% minorities. Mostly black, but one family is, I think, from Pakistan. That's about the equivalent of the racial makeup of the entire state - the census from 2005 showed about 60% white, 30% black. Clearly, minorities can afford houses in this neighborhood.

Sometimes, people don't realize they're being silly. I am aware of the economic disparity between whites and minorities, but saying people can't afford something because they're of a certain race is ridiculous.


Susan said...

That's not discrimination against minorities, it's discrimination against broke people, which is probably a vast majority these days!

I find this funny. I know the context intended (racial minority) but technically I'm a minority as a woman, and when I bought my house I was a single woman in her late 20's in the South, which made me more of a minority than any ethnic group around. My house is 1300 sq ft., 40 years old but sturdy, and was the best I could afford on my income at the time. A few years before that my parents, who are far from broke, built a similar size house on land they owned because they wanted something smaller and easy to maintain heading into retirement. I guess they'd be discriminated against, too. And young couples with low incomes. It's not a race issue, it's an income issue. Much like Madison, they don't want broke people living there, regardless of race.

Sandi said...

So true, Susan. Madison is having its own issues with ordinances. They're not just against broke people, they're against renting. Some poor fellow got charged with a criminal offense because he [gasp!] rented his house out in violation of neighborhood covenants. They made it criminal. Fortunately, he was acquitted. But the mayor said she's going to do all she can do to keep people from renting out their own properties.

Watercolor said...

I have a 950 sq ft apartment and if it had about 200 more sq ft it would be perfect. 1400 sq ft is too much house for me. So, Brandon can kiss my patootie. Cities are going crazy trying to keep poor people out. Give me a break. Not everyone wants a big house. Some of us want something small enough we don't break a sweat walking from one end to the other. Our parents and grandparents grew up in small houses. Good grief. They have lost their minds.

Madison's mayor makes my skin crawl. And all the people who voted for her and continue to vote for her deserve her and the stupid ugly ugly ugly buildings being built there. I am a professional upstanding citizen and I rent because I prefer to let someone else handle the responsibility of the exterior maintenance. Idiot woman. Renters aren't the problem. Slum lords are.

Stacey said...

Watercolor needs a beer :) I agree with ya though, girl - slum lords are what give renters a bad name.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as the people in my HOA don't make their houses look like crap, thereby reducing everyone's house values, I couldn't care less if they rent. Renting IS verboten in our covenants, but it doesn't hurt anyone else or hurt house values - that's their business. Plus, there's a huge difference between private landowners making such decisions and the government making such decisions FOR private landowners. THAT's what makes me angry.

Jennifer Carter said...

I think Brandon is trying to better itself in so many ways by making sure they get rid of all the ones who THEY THINK will bring it down. Whether it be race, financial class... Brandon is a very nice city, but it is still in Rankin County. Which - don't get me wrong - there are some pretty well-off people here. But most of us are still working for a living and not sitting on a lot with a golf-course or lake in the back yard like Madison County subdivisions! There are too many people in Rankin County who have to settle for less just because that's all they can afford. I think it is crap!