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Housing Costs Hurting Southland Job Market

August 18, 1991

Dan Akst's sang froid over California's declining economy is foolhardy, "Business Is on the Move--Is That Terrible?" (July 23).

Without jobs, there is no prosperity, and without manufacturing acting as our economic backbone, there won't be adequate jobs. Californians cannot prosper by flipping hamburgers or programming computers for each other.

The villain is the price of housing. The idea that it is one's God-given right to become a semi-millionaire just by owning a family home in a decent part of Southern California is just plain crazy and carries a high price.

Universities are unable to hire established scholars from other parts of the country. Businesses can't afford to move here, and many of those that are in the Southland are moving elsewhere.

Mature people at the height of their careers are cashing in their swollen home equities to pocket a cool tax-exempt $125,000 gain, and use the rest of their six-figure selling price to buy fancy houses free and clear in other parts of the country, where a family home is considered a place to live, not a leveraged, speculative, tax-advantaged investment.

Worse than that, the prevailing six-figure home equities have transmogrified greed into virtue. California homeowners now have a huge stake in preserving the status quo no matter how outmoded or counterproductive.

Our land-use laws and politics are the laughingstock of the nation. Rightly so.

They shut off the creation of needed housing and deny constitutional rights to property in the name of environmental slogans that on close examination often turn out to be largely political pandering to the greed of rich suburbanites ensconced in outlandishly priced homes.

GIDEON KANNER

Los Angeles

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