The Norman Transcript

Opinion

May 12, 2013

High density: Is this all you’ve got?

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I must admit that after I read John Lungren’s letter to the editor (“High-density housing will occur in Norman someday,” May 5, 2013), I was pretty irked — so many errors, factual and conceptual! 

After some reflection, however, my irritation faded into a sort of bemusement. Is this really the best that advocates of high-rise/high-density development (HR/HD) can do?

The elephant in the room, of course, is that the citizens of Norman — including the development community — already hashed out these issues in the summer 2012 High Density Public Discussion Series. 

After what was, frankly, an attempt to sell citizens on HR/HD, the majority decided that they would prefer to go slow in order to protect Norman’s current assets (especially its neighborhoods). The development community, however, spent the fall and winter trying to either circumvent or subvert that consensus. Mr. Lungren’s letter is just the latest effort in that process.

Usually, when a firm wants to sell you something, it tries to convince you that the product is good for YOU.  Mr. Lungren is trying to sell HR/HD, however, on the grounds that it helps entrepenuers. 

They are the ones, after all, who want to “[m]ake housing available,” “agree that there is a need for more housing … and want to satisfy this need,” and think “Norman needs to compete.” 

On the substance, these claims look false: housing in Norman seems fine as it is — few vacancies (as Mr. Lungren himself points out) combined with price stability, the hallmark of a well-functioning market. More importantly, this is just a weird approach.

It is good for salesmen to like their product, but aren’t they supposed to be convincing us? I don’t think we can trust HR/HD advocates to do a good job of safeguarding Norman if they can’t even get their own sales pitch right.

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