Mountain View, CA, August 18th, 2008.
Despite the recent downturn in real estate, the cost of a new home in many parts of the country remains beyond the reach of many people. For example, the median home price in the San Francisco Bay area hovers around half a million dollars. The Seasteading Institute, a new non-profit (*) based in Mountain View, CA hopes to reduce housing costs in a unique fashion — by promoting the colonization of the oceans.
“Building houses in the U.S. is heavily regulated, so the supply of new housing grows very slowly. As a result, the price of housing remains high.” said Seasteading Institute founder Patri Friedman. A study by University of Washington economics professor Theo Eicher found that between 1989 and 2006, the median inflation-adjusted price of a Seattle house more than doubled from $221,000 to $447,800. According to that study, fully $200,000 of that increase was the result of land-use regulations.
“There is plenty of room on the ocean, and by building there we can avoid the costs imposed by zoning and land-use regulation. Seasteads can be built anywhere in the world, then towed into place, so we can save costs by hiring third-world labor, while benefiting poor countries. Floating homes are also protected against rising oceans from global warming.”
Seasteading advocates point to the Netherlands as an example of a country that is gradually moving to an aquatic lifestyle. “In the Netherlands, many homes are built on floating platforms moored to canal bottoms. If the sea levels rise, the homes simply float on the water.”
Seasteaders acknowledge that the deep ocean seasteads face higher hurdles than houseboats. “We have to solve a lot of problems — how do you deal with rogue waves? Generate power? Find work? These are not easy, but given the amount of time people already spend at sea on cruises, we think the time has come for permanent ocean settlements.”
The Seasteading Institute will host the first annual Seasteading Conference in Burlingame, CA on October 10th, 2008, to explore these and other problems.