In San Francisco there is general agreement that there is a lack of housing as well as an excess of feces, drug needles etc. You might expect therefore that the local authorities would streamline the permit and approval process to allow more residences to be built. If you did expect that, you would of course be completely wrong because NIMBYism is alive and well in the city. In fact people who want to turn a one-storey laundromat into a block of flats with a laundromat at the bottom have to sue the city to be allowed to develop his property four years after he started the process. The excuses raised are silly:

Tillman’s project was granted approval by The City’s Planning Commission last November.

However, since then the Board of Supervisors has twice delayed approval in response to appeals filed by Calle 24.

In February, the board required Tillman to assess the historic value of the 1920’s era building that houses the laundromat. That assessment found the building does not meet the criteria necessary to designate it a historic resource.

In June, the board determined that an additional shadow study is needed to assess the project’s impacts on an adjacent school.

The lawsuit states that The City’s planning staff has “repeatedly found in reports that any such shadows do not constitute a significant environmental impact under the City’s existing policies.”

The building in question is pictured above. It is not exactly a shining jewel of 1920s era architecture and the shadow requirement is being applied in a way that is against the recommendations of the city’s planning department. Unsurprisingly it looks like at least some of the reason for this is standard political corruption:

Among Tillman’s claims is that Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission District, sided with “special interest groups in the Mission seeking to acquire the property at a below market price” and moved to block the project after he refused,” according to court documents.

The Mission Economic Development Agency, a non-profit housing developer in the Mission, has previously offered to buy the building for $9 million from Tillman, who rejected that proposal.

It is enough to want to take certain people, stick them in a broken, empty fridge and leave them for a while. Talking of which, Megan McCardle has a fridge that could be used for that purpose:

I had a visit from two men on Monday morning, and they gave me a dark prophecy. Thus spake they: “Soon, you will be replacing your refrigerator.”

The appliance in question was purchased less than eight years ago, shortly after we moved into our house. It replaced a landlord special in that peculiar shade of brown that shouts the 1970s. There was nothing wrong with the old refrigerator except that it was tiny enough to be dubbed, during the brief time we spent with it, the “My First Fridge.”

In came a 26-cubic-foot column of stainless steel, equipped with all the modern conveniences, including water and ice dispensed through the door. I’d like to say that over the years, I’ve saved enough time not fiddling with ice-cube trays to write a novel, or learn Esperanto. But the truth is that it was a fairly minor convenience — as we discovered 18 months ago, when the whole apparatus broke.

Ice can be made in the freezer and water drawn from the tap. But we do expect that the refrigerator will keep our food cold and not make horrible noises at random intervals. Those expectations are no longer being met. Two men arrived from our local appliance store, fiddled a bit and announced that we were in need of roughly $1,500 worth of parts. Alas, poor LG, we hardly knew ye.

I note that the author’s household is suffering from a similar issue with a 6 year old fridge/freezer that no longer does the freeze bit so well. It turns out that the old, indestructable, “runs for ever” fridges are no longer being made, mostly thanks to government mandates about energy consumption that mean recent fridges are, like washing machines, shower heads, lightbulbs and so on, no longer as reliable and long lasting as they used to be. Because the regulations are government imposed there’s no way to choose whether you want them or not.

Given the choice, we might well opt for quasi-disposable appliances that offer more features while we have them.

But of course, we aren’t being given that choice. As I’ve begun to eye replacements, I’ve noticed that if I want certain features, such as French doors that won’t block my small kitchen, I must also have an appliance that is Internet-ready, in case I wish to email rather than speak to the refrigerator in person. Nor can I decide that I’d like to trade higher electricity bills for a longer life span; the government has already made that decision for me. Frustratingly, it’s not even clear that this is good for the environment, because it takes quite a lot of energy and materials to manufacture the appliances we’re regularly throwing away.

Once upon a time it was the left who got upset about “planned obsolescence”, these days it seems that the left – in this case in their enviromental manifestation – are a major contributor to the causes of the obsolescence, just as they seem to be the cause of the housing crises they whine about. In fact both these stories illustrate how laws and government regulations, passed for the best of purposes, end up causing more of whatever it is they want to reduce.

On the other hand as Laura Montgomery recently pointed out, under Trump the NRC is really getting to grips with reducing government interference:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reviewed an application by National Aeronautics & Space Administration John H. Glenn Research Center (NASA Glenn) for amendment of Materials License No. 34–00507–16, which authorizes the use and storage of licensed material for research and development. The amendment would allow the unrestricted release of the NASA Cyclotron Facility, also known as Building 140

What could possibly go wrong?