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I was a building inspector for seven years in the 1970s. I watched government regulators force all of the low-end builders to build more expensive houses in compliance with all the added regulations. I can still remember the builders, their business models, as well as their comments when they were forced to stop building what they were good at; or, learn to build something else. Most smaller builders, with a record of success, just started managing their inventories and became investors as building low-end housing became a non-profit venture. The big corporate builders were awarded control of the marketplace for housing by default once government forced the small business operator out of the market.
I graduated from law school and became a lawyer representing many of these displaced small builders. However, I don’t want to waste a lot of time just saying “I told you so” for energies that were spent 30 years ago. I agree that no one can build affordable housing in San Diego anymore. As for me, I’m investing in Houston and other Texas locations where I can still make money, on my own, without partnering with politicians pretending to understand the complexities of the construction business. I wish I could contribute to Fix San Diego but the powers that be will not diminish their appetite for control, and local politics will mandate that you write this article again in ten years when the housing shortage doubles again and less than one-third of the population can afford a house anyway. I simply have lost confidence that our elected officials can make the hard decisions necessary to promote success. Thoughtless spending has run its course. Without a limitless supply of taxpayer funds San Diego will not have its share of affordable housing no matter how much rhetoric is pondered.
Johnny Winkelman lives in Alpine.
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