High home prices mean that this argument should not be the least bit persuasive to city council members voting on the Bethlehem zoning ordinance:
“I would have thought twice about buying the beautiful house I live in now if there was an office building because I don’t want it commercialized,” East Market Street resident Mary Anne Lynch said.
If you look at the prices on this map, you will see that the homes closest to downtown are priced higher than ones further away. The most expensive homes in Bethlehem are mostly clustered around downtown, and ones near the historic district are especially expensive.
What does this mean? It means lots of people would like to live in that neighborhood. The high prices are the exchange value. They represent how much money Mary Anne Lynch and owners of similar properties could trade their very beautiful homes for.
That people are willing to pay a lot more for these homes than for other homes means that Mary Anne Lynch should have very little political leverage in this zoning fight. Lots and lots of people would be very happy to take her place, so there’s no political imperative to do what she wants.
If city council allows businesses to use storefronts in the neighborhood, and Mary Anne Lynch decides she prefers to live in a single-use residential neighborhood because of this, the neighborhood is certainly not going to collapse. All that’s going to happen is that a different person will buy her house who does prefer to live in a mixed use neighborhood.
If this was a fragile neighborhood teetering on the edge of decline, rich people threatening to leave would carry more political weight. But does anybody really think no other rich people are going to buy these beautiful homes if the current owners take their toys and go live somewhere else? Please.