- Emphasizing high-density housing seems a little rich in a state where it is illegal for renters to put more than three children in a bedroom...regardless of the size of the bedroom (we used to rent a townhouse with bedrooms that could easily accommodate 3 or 4 bunk beds with plenty of room for other furniture and some play space, but the law would still have limited capacity to three occupants). The actual regulation is no more than 2 people in a 1 bed rental and no more than 5 people in a 2 bed rental. So you can increase the number of homes per acre, but not the number of people per home? I'm sensing a logic problem here.
- Those rental laws are the result of the 19th and early 20th century disaster known as tenement buildings. People who lived in tenements (mostly immigrants) were crammed into unbelievably close quarters, and the buildings had insufficient exit points in case of fire. The close quarters were also a health and sanitation nightmare. Denser isn't always better. I'll grant that the density California is talking about isn't that bad, but we need to remember that lesson.
- Living in dense housing does not necessarily equal energy efficiency. Families with back yards or who live in low-density areas can allow their children to play outside at home. Families in apartments and condos have to transport their children to parks. Energy efficiency also has a lot to do with the number of electronic devices in use or on standby in the home. A home with three televisions and two computers has a far heavier energy load than a home with one of each or none--regardless of how those homes compare in size.
- One argument for high-density living over suburban living is that apartment dwellers can often walk to shopping and other errands. In many cases, that is an accurate assessment. However, I used to live in an apartment complex in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley's apartment complexes are generally clustered together, with limited access to shopping centers or located near shopping centers in areas that are not safe to travel without a car (near freeways or roads without sidewalks). That's not to mention that families with children are not easily able to run errands without a car (I've done it. I know.). And short jaunts in the car can be more upsetting to children than longer ones. All that's not to mention the increase in gas consumption caused by traveling city streets.
In general, I don't like the suburbs. Rural living is wonderful. Urban living can be good too. The inbetween infringes on land that could be put to other uses (farm land, industrial development, etc.). But more importantly, the state should let supply and demand determine what kind of development is done, if any--the state is full of new developments that were never occupied after completion just before the real estate bust. Let's see what people want and make the best use of what we have.