“With the cost of California housing continuing to surprise even people who thought they were beyond such surprises, the pressure to “do something” has produced two notable “solutions”: inclusionary housing policies, requiring homes to be set aside for lower-income families as a condition of building new homes, and campaigns to reinstate local power to impose rent control (as with the Affordable Housing Act initiative, on California’s Nov. 6 ballot as Proposition 10).
Beyond trying to hold down housing prices by law, those two approaches seem to share little. One addresses home ownership; the other, rentals. The loudest groups on the issues are different, and so are the mechanisms. However, there is an insufficiently noticed similarity: Both allow local political majorities (owners in one case; renters in the other) to advance their narrow self-interest while harming most of those they purportedly help. These regulations represent self-interested and harmful altruism.
The self-interested support for these policies grows from the distinction between their effects on current tenants and homeowners and the very different effects on future aspiring tenants and homeowners, far larger groups that are not yet residents.”