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The Disingenuous Narrative Devised To Undo Maine's Home Rule Authority
Out with the Newspeak! Let's Get Real!
Why the Gaslighting?
The idea that the housing shortage in Maine or the USA is caused by housing underproduction is a well-crafted narrative but historical data shows that the cause of the housing shortage is not the underproduction of housing needed for residential living and so one must ask why and how this narrative became the basis of a statute, HP 1489, that robs Maine communities of their constitutional Home Rule right to decide matters local and municipal in character.
The terminology ‘housing underproduction” connotes houses as a consumable with a quota to be met endlessly year after year replacing what was used up the year before. The narrative goes on, that, for the sake of protecting our environment from climate change, we must not allow the homes to sprawl spaciously into our open lands, instead, for the climate’s sake, housing for the masses whose income is below the median must be compacted into smaller sizes and packed more densely together, reserving the open land for the use of farming and recreational activities, although the climate benefit of overcrowded human housing is not explained and there is an argument to be made that such overcrowding of human living is actually worse for the environment than Maine’s traditional rural communities.
Thus Maine’s new law, HP 1489 written by about a dozen private sector citizens mostly in real-estate, development, and investment industries, forbids municipalities from having ordinances that prohibit “overcrowding” a term that means unhealthy density, and the authors of the act and the legislatures who voted for it don’t have a problem with using that specific designation in a Maine statute as they appear to live in another world than in the Maine I know.
My parents moved to Boothbay in 1952. leaving behind the sort of controlled and overcrowded grid development community that the Boothbay Regional Development Corporation is bringing to this rural Peninsula, and which will permanently change The Peninsula’s community character by the design of the State of Maine’s new act HP 1489, usually referred to by its bill identification LD 2003.
My Dad studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute under the illustrious Eva Zeisel and was part of the core 1950s young urban designer’s group, receiving awards for his work. He shocked Eva when he told her that he and my mother were moving to Maine to start their own business that would create a handmade product affordable to the middle class, a radical concept since historically most designer handmade objects are prestige objects designed for the wealthy but it was then that rare moment in history when the greatest amount of wealth was distributed among the greatest number of people and my parents set out not just to design for the industry but to reinvent industry using production as an art form.
But they could not do this in the Levitte Town style of housing where they lived in Ohio where my Dad was the Dean of the Akron College Art School. Too many rules, too little space, the houses too crowded together. You can’t be an innovator in that kind of environment. Innovators break the rules as the authors and legislators of another act passed alongside LD 2003 know. LD 1845 rewrote our educational statutes and authorized “demonstration research schools” for which the rules that govern the rest of our public education system can be waived so that the special interest schools can “innovate”. Special rules for special folks- all on the public dime!
While the “demonstration research schools” can have rules waived that apply to the rest of the public educational system, the residents of the housing concentration zones will be subject to increased regulations in their living situation:
BRDC will continue as landowner beyond the buildout and current leadership because of investment in land and infrastructure, said Cooperrider. Homes and rentals will be subject to a homeowners association which will have some control over the property and BRDC control through deed restrictions, purchase and resale oversight and other mechanisms now under investigation; apartments will be managed by a professional company, she said.” Selectmen get housing development presentation
One Ommission Leads To Another
HP 1489 (LD 2003) authorizes a slush fund to be distributed as grants to municipalities that will develop municipal ordinances under the state’s guidance. It doesn’t identify the source of the slush fund, perhaps because the study did not include the short-term rental industry, which is speculatively the unspoken source of the slush fund. When a decision is made not to include a factor so significant as the short-term rental industry, it requires filling in or smoothing over the gaps in the storyline.
The follow-up study of the same name but including the short-term rental industry identifies STR revenue as a source of funding in Recommendation #3. Redirect a portion of the revenue from the sales tax on STRs to municipalities where STRs are located. But the follow-up study has not been yet enacted. If it ever makes it into enactment, LD 2003 will have to be amended to incorporate the gaps in its storyline taken up by the follow-up study
Grow Smart Maine published a Concept Draft on its website titled An Act to Provide Regional Support to Deliver State and Federal Programs to Cities and Towns in the State
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.
This bill proposes to clarify and enhance the relationship between state agencies and regional planning commissions in the State by providing:
Direct resources to regional planning commissions for the development of municipal ordinances, the examination of regional suitability for new housing
developments and the development of model ordinances for the benefit of large and small communities;
This sounds identical to Municipal Planning Assistance Grant and Incentive Program Fund N411 9 in LD 2003 (enacted as HP 1489), which is to assist municipalities in the development and implementation of zoning and land use ordinances. Through this program collaborating non-profit organizations- such as Grow Smart Maine- Build Maine can receive grants of up to $25,000 per year for fulfilling certain requirements in advancing the State’s agenda. Central management believes it is possible to buy out Home Rule authority over matters municipal and local in character, as what could be more municipal and local in character than municipal ordinances? The State wants to control municipal ordinances now for reasons that seem transparent despite gaps in the storyline.
The corporate state starves opposition or competition to its policies of funding:
The act authorizing the follow-up study to LD 2003, Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Land Use Regulations and Short-term Rentals says the following:
Sec. 8. Outside funding. Resolved:
That the commission shall seek funding contributions to fully fund the costs of the study. All funding is subject to approval by the Legislative Council by its policies. If sufficient contributions to fund the study have not been received within 30 days after the effective date of this resolve, no meetings are authorized and no expenses of any kind may be incurred or reimbursed.
The under-production myth is propagated with statements like this one:
Since at least the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009) the US has failed to build enough homes to meet the demand created by the population, especially those at the lower tiers of the income scale. source dates added by author
This statement is not verified. I traced it to a statement published by Fannie May that says “After the Great Recession, new home construction dropped like a stone. Fewer new homes were built in the 10 years that ended 2018 than in any decade since the 1960s”
That is true but it is a data set isolated between 2010 and 2020 when the population increased by 22,703,743 source
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average family consisted of 3.13 persons in 2021.
Divide the population increase (22,703,743) by household size (3.13) and 7,253,592 new houses were needed based on population growth in the 2010-2020 decade.
Statistica reports that 6.9 million homes were built between 2010 and 2019 making a shortage of 353,592 new homes built. It is a true statement that based on the data between 2010 and 2019 “the US has failed to build enough homes to meet the demand” but that does not take into account the overbuilding for the size of population growth during the previous decade.
There was a population increase of 32,712,033 in the previous decade. source
The average household size was the same in both decades so population growth (32,712,033) divided by 3.13 produced a need for 10,451,128 houses to be built in the 2000-2010 decade but Statistica reports that 14,560,000 new homes were built during that decade, spurred by the repackaging of subprime mortgages and deregulated financial markets resulting in rising real estate values, causing a surplus of 4,108,872 new homes built in the decade previous to 2010-2019 far exceeding the 353,592 shortage of homes built during 2010-2019. The number of homes that the US “failed to build” is supplemented by the overstock built in the previous decade. The only questionable part of the statement is why is it a “failure” to not overproduce houses that already exist in stock, except for the short-term rental factor which is not included in the official narrative but exists in the real world.
If we go back to the 1950s the population was 151.325,798 source
Between 1950 and 2020 the population increased by 180,123,483 creating a need for 57,547,438 new homes. According to Statistica’s data between 1950 and 2019 78,030,000 new homes were built giving a surplus of 20,482,562 new homes built, leaving room for seasonal and vacation homes, not counting the short-term rental industry that has exploded since 2008 when Airbnb was born.
The official narrative we hear today treats housing simply as a need related to population growth and on those terms alone spins a deception.
The US didn’t need to build new homes to meet the demand during 2010-2020 because there was pre-existing overstock per the need for houses for residential living. But if the Airbnb effect is included in the storyline. it eats residential home stock, creating an unfilled demand for residential homes. So if the planers are concerned about the climate instead of forcing the masses into closely packed cells, they could just put a stop to the short-term rental industry which would bring down the demand for building new homes and travelers could go back to staying in hotels for the benefit of the environment.
The government narrative excludes the growth in the short-term rental industry and attributes the cause of the housing shortage to underproduction, not underproduction pursuant to residential population needs but underproduction pursuant to the housing shortage using circular reasoning. We have underproduced because we have a housing shortage which is caused by underproduction. This is the line of reasoning used to justify Maine’s new law, HP 1489, based on a study by 12 private citizen-commissioners who decided not to include the Airbnb effect.
The Great Recession was caused by innovative bankers who packed subprime mortgages into bundles and sold them as meeting Fannie Mae mortgage standards. Read here how the US Congress stopped an act to regulate the new innovations, regulations which might have prevented the Great Recession of 2007-2009 from happening.
The process of how the regulation of swaps and derivatives was defeated sounds very familiar to the way that laws are crafted in Maine and how developments, such as the proposed 100 million dollar school proceed on the Boothbay Peninsula- with a whole lot of secrecy,
The final language, which the public was hardly aware of, contained some new sections not in the original Ewing bill that, for all intents and purposes, exempted swaps and derivatives from regulation by both the CFTC, which had already implemented rules that it would not regulate swaps and derivatives, and the SEC. Also, hidden within the bill was an exemption for energy derivative trading, which would later become known as the "Enron loophole" - this loophole would provide the impetus for Enron's nose dive into full blown corporate corruption. source
If there is any truth to the underproduction myth, it is not based on the need for houses for residential living, but due to the new financial instrument that came into being between 2007 and 2009. This new financial instrument, Instead of utilizing home mortgages is the home itself and is being implemented on a scale that was not possible before the internet. Airbnb was born in 2008, an industry that is aggressively accelerating in Maine and can only expand into one type of environment- residential homes, and so the short-term housing industry depletes the housing stock for residential homes and creates a demand for more homes- but short-term rentals are not included in central management’s well-crafted narrative and was left out of the study for LD 2003, arguably, concealed by intent.
Considering the language terms used in the narrative and what is included and what is occluded, there are comparisons to be made between the subprime mortgage bubble and the short-term rental industry, both are cases of new financial innovations that never existed before and have no historical comparison as they unravel for the first time, and both are cases where in government ensured that the newly innovated financial instruments are not regulated. Is there a deliberate choice made to avoid the term “subprime mortgage bubble” and to use instead “The Great Recession” so as to avoid comparisons between one deregulation decade and the next?
The deregulation of swaps and derivatives became the Great Recession. The deregulation of the short-term rental industry is expanding the New Feudalism, which also includes the rising phenomenon of corporate-owned single-family homes, which is what the 36-acre overcrowded housing zone that the Boothbay Regional Development Corporation is planning for the Boothbay Peninsula will be.
Because there is a clear and present housing shortage for people to live in, it is possible to spin the cause of the sudden shortage of residential housing across the globe as caused by the “underproduction of housing”. For those of you who question the end goal of this narrative that mandates concentrated housing zones across an entire state, the government has a name for you too- you are branded as motivated by “NIMBY”
That’s a clever thought-control policy- - but what does “NIMBY “ actually mean?
NIMBY (or nimby), an acronym for the phrase "not in my back yard", is a characterization of opposition by residents to proposed developments in their local area, as well as support for strict land use regulations. It carries the connotation that such residents are only opposing the development because it is close to them and that they would tolerate or support it if it were built farther away. The residents are often called nimbys, and their viewpoint is called nimbyism. The opposite movement is known as YIMBY for "yes in my back yard". source.
The accusations of nimbyism against LD 2003 critics, can only be founded on the belief that the overcrowded affordable housing zones are the “undesirable element” not wanted in anyone’s backyard. This insidious way of attempting to silence opposition to the will of the few boomerangs when the narrative includes the rise of the short-term rental industry since backyards don’t go away based on the length of residency, so short-term renters must also want their yards to look a certain way, and so the industry has an interest in controlling the new resort campus occupying the spaces that were once our villages and natural environment. The industry is so nimby that the problem of homelessness is wiped from LD 2003 as though homelessness does not exist, just as the short-term rental industry would like to purge any evidence of homelessness that could be attributed to the industry, from its resort campus.
After the platform, the industry-wide beneficiary is the State of Maine which collects a 9% sales tax on bookings and services and in this way the State is no different from any other corporation pursuing its own self-interests except that it writes the rules of the game in which it is also a player.
The short-term rental industry is expanding so rapidly in Maine that the State needs to protect its interests by insuring there is territory for the industry’s expansion, but since the short-term rental industry is intentionally absent in the official narrative, the narrative is framed as carving out territory for the residential community, when actually the government is segregating the residential community from the short term rental community, compressing one and expanding the other.
As the residential community is crowded into smaller units packed more closely together in corporate-owned developments, the thought leaders of the public-private state are creating growth space for the short-term rental industry and in the process changing the culture in such a way that an even sharper divide between the ownership classes and the working classes emerges. The advocates champion the industry as helping homeowners to afford their mortgages while squeezing other residential living into such small accommodations that the only productive business that is possible in a home is one that takes place almost entirely online (like this newsletter since Andersen Design lost its dearly missed business in a home property).
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The people living in undersized spaces in crowded developments are not expected to have much of a life in their own homes. They are the “workforces” and the PPCS (Public-Private Corporate State) has its own plans for them, not imagining that they might have plans of their own.
"Another Brick in the Wall" Song and video by Pink Floyd 1979
And so the narrative becomes that of the State solving the residential housing shortage by mandating concentrated housing zones in every municipality and permitting overcrowding, but it can be considered from another perspective to clearing the way for short-term rental campuses by isolating residential living into designated camps and reserving open spaces for growing food and recreation which will be a boost the PPCS’s short-term rental industry.
However, that occludes the reality that Maine is a constitutional Home Rule state and that means that PPCS should not be centrally managing municipal ordinances as a state function. Home Rule authority is protected by the Maine Constitution. which does not preclude municipalities from working together regionally or joining an organization that co-ordinates local and state interests but that such co-ordination should not be done under the authority of the state and funded with state tax revenue, especially not when the state has a special interest in the outcome pursuant to state revenue sources.
Getting back to Grow Smart Maine. A while ago I wrote about addressing both Grow Smart Maine and my new state Senator about the issue of using conditional funding to finance education. Since then I have not received a response from either party. When one raises an issue from a different paradigm, unrelated to the paradigm that the state or an organization is advocating, it is very rare indeed to receive a response and so I am unsurprised by the fact that I received no response.
That is why we, who do not feel represented by the paradigms being sold to us by well-funded state and private organizations, must take our own initiative. If Grow Smart Maine can create model ordinances, anyone can do so though it is ultimately up to the selectmen. However, creating a model can have some influence.
There are to be two new selectmen elected in Boothbay this May. Rumor has it Julie Roberts has been tapped to run, she is so openly enamored by Paul Coulombe that having Ms. Roberts as a Town Selectman would be like having Paul Coulombe as a Town Selectman. Ms. Robert’s Company, Coastal Maine Popcorn was one of the anonymous donors that contributed to the fund to pay architects to design the plan for the 100 million dollar school in advance of a public referendum that will decide if the community wants to go down that path. (see the response to FOAA request here.)
In the current political atmosphere on the Peninsula, there are clearly two strongly divided sides with the 100 million-dollar school at the vortex.
If we do not want our Peninsula to be transformed into a subsidiary corporation of PPCS (Public Private Corporate State), we need selectmen who will not roll over for the state for the sake of grant dollars. Traditionally our local election season lasts for one week and consists of short writeups in the newspaper in which all candidates recognize the challenges we have to solve. Still, there is not enough space to differentiate their approaches to the solutions. We deserve better than that this election season. Can the local TV station feature a debate, provided there will be other candidates stepping up representing both sides of the divide? If the TV station schedules a debate, say one month ahead of the election, that expands our election season by three weeks which would be a good thing. If a group of creatives was to organize such an event and announce it in advance that might even encourage additional candidates to step forward. It could be fun.
In the meantime, if the State is going to be promoting “model ordinances", how can the State refuse model ordinances? How about a model ordinance that is a throwback to the historical cottage Industries predating the overcrowded housing of the Industrial Revolution? We are entering the Age of Automation. The Industrial Revolution is history. Let’s make a better world! The lifestyle of Cottage Industries was a better world.
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