Comedian Dave Chappelle has been ruffling feathers on the Left for his comedy specials over the last few years. Now they are furious at him for using his success to keep his small town small. Chappelle lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, outside of Dayton. In 2019, the village had a population of slightly less than 4,000. One travel site calls Yellow Springs “the most hippie and colorful town in Ohio.” Pictures of downtown are indeed colorful and idyllic. “It’s home to a population of approximately 3,500 residents, Antioch College, a colorful downtown, a working dairy farm, a nature preserve and, (you guessed it), the official “Yellow Spring” the town is named after.”

Chappelle trended on Twitter Thursday morning for lambasting his city council and threatening to pull $65 million in business investments if they approved an “affordable housing” project. Affordable housing is code for high density, low-income housing, as every proposed plan makes clear. According to the Dayton Daily News, the proposal from the developer Oberor included single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes. It also included a donation of 1.75 acres for future affordable housing. Builders could only use that amount of land for high-density apartments and keep it “affordable.”

Residents, including Chappelle, came out against the plans. As the town’s most famous resident, the comedian also decided to use his considerable leverage to kill the project. Rolling Stone blames Chappelle for the failure of the development plan:

 But thanks to opposition from Chappelle — who threatened to pull his business ventures from Yellow Springs if the plan moved forward — and other members of the Yellow Springs community, the council rejected the proposal Monday night, Feb 7, and instead went with the original plan: 143 single-family homes with a starting price of about $300,000.

Chappelle’s various dealings in Yellow Springs are spearheaded by his company, Iron Table Holdings LLC, and he’s reportedly planning to launch a restaurant called the Firehouse Eatery and a comedy club, Live from YS. At the council meeting Monday, Chappelle bandied about the heft “$65 million a year company” as he threatened to axe his own business ventures. 

“I cannot believe you would make me audition for you,” Chappelle said. “You look like clowns. I am not bluffing, I will take it all off the table.” 

The objections of Chappell and other residents who live near the proposed development raised concerns as far back as December about increased traffic and a lack of pedestrian sidewalks.

Chappelle, who lives adjacent to the proposed development, said that he is “adamantly opposed” to the project.

“I’ve invested millions of dollars in town. If you push this thing through, what I’m investing in is no longer applicable,” he said. “I would say that Oberer can buy all of this property from me if they want to be your benefactor because I will no longer want to.”

“We should use more of a visionary eye instead of a reactionary one because the potential of this place is immense and Oberer is not the only solution,” Chappelle continued.

When the internationally known comedian decided to use his leverage during the council vote, it should not have surprised anyone. The bigger question is why council members in a town of somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 residents have “housing goals.” Especially goals for “affordable housing.” You may recall President Trump telling Americans that Joe Biden wanted to abolish the suburbs. The project considered in Yellow Springs is part of that plan.

Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill, which received bipartisan support, dangled millions of dollars in front of local leaders to eliminate so-called “exclusionary zoning.” Cutting up neighborhoods by dotting them with high-density apartment complexes and other rental properties started in earnest during the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. The Trump administration eliminated that rule. Rather than implementing the regulation again, the infrastructure bill codified much of it into law.

Several large blue cities, like Seattle and Minneapolis, ended single-family zoning, while others are considering it. Oregon ended it statewide for cities with more than 10,000 residents. Sacramento’s Mayor Darrell Steinberg best sums up the position of the Left:

Everybody should have the opportunity to not only play in Land Park but to live in Land Park,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “That’s the Sacramento that we all uphold, that we love, that we value, and you better believe this drive for inclusion and equity is the driving force of our city, and it is going to continue well beyond my tenure here.”

If the zoning changes stayed confined to large cities where housing is often in short supply, it might make sense. However, that would not meet Democrats’ electoral ambitions. Most large cities already have a surplus of Democrat voters in excess of what is needed to win elections comfortably. Democrats want to spread excess voters into suburbs and exurbs, where candidates win races on much thinner margins. Move enough Democrats out of the city into high-density housing, and a suburban district that reliably votes Republican by 3-4% could easily turn blue. Many purple districts could fall solidly into Democrat control.

To accomplish their goals, Democrats turn affordable housing into an issue of racial discrimination. The comments from residents in Yellow Springs demonstrated that it is a lifestyle issue. Parents were worried about their children’s safety with the increased traffic. The plans did not include safe pedestrian pathways, according to many residents. Yet, even in Yellow Springs, your hippie city council member will try and shame you if you object to higher density, low-income housing:

Council member Marianne MacQueen said that she was in favor of moving forward with the PUD to allow for some affordable housing options.

“I want people to think about it when we say we don’t like this housing. Yes, Yellow Springs is changing and will continue to change. That’s life,” she said. “We can either have a Residential-A subdivision or we can have what we’ve been working toward — single family homes, duplexes, attached housing and affordable housing.”

Initiatives similar to what Yellow Springs considered are getting proposed across the nation. For now, the Left will take aim at Chappelle for ending the zoning discussion in his town. Residents of Yellow Springs and other communities seeking to keep their neighborhoods governed locally should demand an end to property taxes. If, as Mayor Steinberg asserts, anyone can live anywhere, then they can help pay for it through an additional sales tax. 

Paying rent or having it subsidized does not buy beautiful parks, hire great teachers, and produce clean sidewalks. Tax dollars do. Contrary to the Left’s idea, living in a town with those things is a privilege, not a right. If maintaining the level of service falls disproportionately on a subset of residents who own property, that is not at all equitable. Everyone paying a little bit more for the things they buy would be “fair.” The radical left should agree since their social justice agenda is always about life being fair.

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