OPINION: We’ll Protect America’s Suburbs
We reject the ultra liberal view that the federal bureaucracy should dictate where and how people live.
By President Donald Trump and HUD Secretary Ben Carson
August 16, 2020
The crime and chaos in Democrat-run cities have gotten so bad that liberals are even getting out of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Rather than rethink their destructive policies, the left wants to make sure there is no escape. The plan is to remake the suburbs in their image so they resemble the dysfunctional cities they now govern. As usual, anyone who dares tell the truth about what the left is doing is smeared as a racist.
We won’t allow this to happen. That’s why we stopped the last administration’s radical social-engineering project that would have transformed the suburbs from the top down. We reversed an Obama-Biden regulation that would have empowered the Department of Housing and Urban Development to abolish single-family zoning, compel the construction of high-density “stack and pack” apartment buildings in residential neighborhoods, and forcibly transform neighborhoods across America so they look and feel the way far-left ideologues and technocratic bureaucrats think they should.
We reject the ultraliberal view that the federal bureaucracy should dictate where and how people live. We believe the suburbs offer a wonderful life for Americans of all races and backgrounds when they are allowed to grow organically, from the bottom up. That’s how America’s suburbs are today—except those that have already been ruined by poor planning and policies.
Every American has a stake in thriving suburbs. The shameful days of redlining are gone, and a majority of the country lives in the suburbs, including majorities of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian-Americans. America’s suburbs are a shining example of the American Dream, where people can live in their own homes, in safe, pleasant neighborhoods. The left wants to take that American dream away from you.
In spite of this remarkable success, a once-unthinkable agenda, a relentless push for more high-density housing in single-family residential neighborhoods, has become the mainstream goal of the left. For eight years under Obama-Biden, HUD pressured Westchester County, N.Y., to change its zoning rules. Although Westchester was never found to have discriminated against anyone, HUD used the threat of withholding federal money to pressure it to raise property taxes and build nearly 11,000 low-income, high-density apartments. Other liberal-run cities and states have also taken up the cause. Minneapolis abolished single-family zoning this year—a few months before it voted to abolish its police force. Oregon outlawed single-family zoning last year. For the past three years, the state senator who represents Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco has led a push to abolish single-family zoning in California.
Liberals even believe this unprecedented federal disruption of the suburbs is required to battle climate change. They say the suburbs are a problem because of unacceptably high levels of greenhouse gases generated by a family with its own house, a yard, two cars and a dog.
The Biden-Sanders unity platform calls for reimposing the Obama-Biden dystopian vision of building low-income housing units next to your suburban house. Some leading Democrats want to go even further. Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. James Clyburn have introduced a bill that would hold hostage more than $12 billion in federal grants to states for safe roads unless local politicians agree to densify the suburbs. As far as the White House is concerned, this bill is dead on arrival.
America was founded on liberty and independence, not government coercion, domination and control. It would be a terrible mistake to put the federal government in charge of local decisions—from zoning and planning to schools. Our Founders understood this was the path to tyranny.
Americans of all walks of life have voted with their feet and put down roots in the suburbs. Across income segments and demographic groups, households have higher rates of homeownership in the suburbs than in urban centers. Decades of liberal governance have tragically made many urban cities unaffordable and others unlivable, unable to provide for their citizens’ basic needs in housing, public safety and education.
While we fight every day to restore our cities’ greatness with innovative means like opportunity zones, the left opposes us on rebuilding the economy, on law and order, and on school choice. We won’t let them export their failures to America’s suburbs. We will save our cities, from which these terrible policies have come, and we will save our suburbs.
Mr. Trump is President of the United States. Dr. Carson is Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
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