We’ve previously seen that in 2006 Mitt Romney was offering some Rent Is Too Damn High-style arguments and that before he started running for president he used to be a smart growther. What’s more, I like to make the point that coastal California’s mild weather gives it some of the lowest CO2 emissions in the country, so there would be enormous ecological benefits to allowing more people to live there. Specifically, the least carbon-intensive metropolitan area in the United States isn’t some crunchy hippie town, it’s San Diego. But as Romney himself has learned from bitter experience, it can be very difficult to build in the San Diego area:
At Mitt Romney’s proposed California beach house, the cars will have their own separate elevator. There’s also a planned outdoor shower and a 3,600-square-foot basement—a room with more floor space than the existing home’s entire living quarters. Those are just some of the amenities planned for the massive renovation of the Romneys’ home in the tony La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, according to plans on file with the city.
A project this ambitious comes with another feature you don’t always find with the typical fixer-upper: its own lobbyist, hired by Romney to push the plan through the approval process.
Now obviously the concerns of multimillionaire private equity managers looking to build their dream vacation getaway should not be our No. 1 public policy priority. But this is illustrative of the general problem. Romney’s house sounds tacky and extravagant, but it’s not some kind of public safety hazard in urgent need of regulation. You shouldn’t need dedicated lobbyists to get permission to build buildings on property you legitimately own. At the end of the day, Romney is going to be able to hire the lobbyist and get his mansion built. But these same hurdles afflict people who might be interested in affordable housing for low-income people or simply regular old market rate structures for the middle class.