There were a handful of articles last week about cities deciding to stop permitting new houses and buildings because of their revised estimates of their water availability.  I think this is fascinating stuff, and one day I hope to write more about it.  If this were the whole post on that, it would have:

A discussion of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, which is a big part of the reason that cities can’t decide to stop permitting new houses, even if cities or districts don’t have enough water for them.

Speculation about what goes into a Will-Serve Letter, which is a water district’s promise that they’ll provide water to a new service hook-up.

A discussion of whether water availability is used as an excuse to keep (poorer, darker) people out of water district service areas. 

Making explicit the fact that when districts decide on a per capita amount of water (gallons/person-day), they are implicitly choosing a standard of living for their constituents (personal lawns, long showers, thirsty plants).  That standard of living has a strong present-day bias, which I don’t think we were ever able to afford and certainly can’t continue to provide.  (Well, it is possible to provide it, but people are already balking at the increasing costs of providing what we’ve got.  I think they’d go batshit if they saw the costs of getting the next source of water.)

Mention and illustration of the fact that (shortsighted, selfish) people get really pissy about being asked to conserve when they see new houses going up in their city.

Description of two policy holes: that planners take population growth as exogenous, and the gap between land use planners and water planners.


Anyway, that would be a rockin’ post, and I should totally write it.  Not today, though.  I can’t tell whether putting up this stub makes a developed final piece more likely or less likely.  I mean, you get the gist, right?


Filed under Basic stuff, Districts

2 responses to “Placeholder

  1. Fascinating stuff, and definitely worth a more developed piece if and when you get the chance. I’m particularly interested in the two policy holes you mention.

  2. dfb

    You should write the post. There is some give-and-pull currently going on in SF Bay Area cities over how to address water needs. Some cities only letting greater density projects that have little to no landscaping. About 60% of municipal water use goes towards landscaping, including pools, lawns, and golf courses. Other water districts are addressing this by mandating recycled non-potable water be used for all landscaping purposes. Examples of this can be seen all over the Silicon Valley where purple irrigation pipes seem to be in most major projects these days, as well as at places like Santa Clara University. Then again, some NIMBY city councils are pushing back against higher density since it ruins the aesthetic they’ve become used to.