[UPDATE: to be crystal clear, I don't know anything about juvenile justice in general or this facility specifically, and wouldn't comment on the overall value of the package. But the point about the new housing units is a big plus of the package, not a minus.]
I found Ariel Wetzel’s Slog guest post about the juvenile jail levy entirely unconvincing, but it did teach me something new:
Well, the link says “425 residential units,” so they might be apartments. Ms. Wetzel is scandalized that someone, somewhere, might turn a profit on some part of this measure, but this strikes me as a win-win-win.
The taxpayer has part of the cost of the new center offset by the sale. More housing units increases aggregate supply and reduces demand for sprawl. I’m no real estate expert, but housing next door to a juvenile justice center is pretty unlikely to be million-dollar condos, so this housing is likely to be “affordable” depending on your definition of the term.
This is how affordable housing will get done on a scale that benefits more than a few households that win a lottery: increase supply through upzoning and reduce barriers to development on plots that have some sort of drawback for upscale consumers. It’s scalable because it’s revenue positive, both because of the sale itself and from the larger tax base the new building will bring. More, please.