SoCal Classic: Early Conservative Opposition to Public Housing

One of the “magical” things about California is the sheer diversity of people and opinions that abound throughout the state. Even its most conservative bastions, like San Diego, have pockets of liberalism. Despite a throbbing right-wing heart beat, San Diego has a vibrant and prominent gay community. With that said, Southern California’s brand of conservatism puts others to shame. Equal parts John Birch Society fever dream and Barry Goldwater eroticism, mid twentieth century Orange County conservatism staunchly opposed liberal corruption and creeping socialist influence, instead promoting free market policies and New Right rhetoric that embraced technological innovation but privileged traditional domesticities. Lisa McGirr’s now landmark Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right captures the mid-century SoCal conservatives at the height of their inner Goldwater.

That’s not to say LA and San Diego didn’t have their own pitchfork wielding right wingers. Published in 1953, The Rose Hills Report: A Case Study of Public Housing declared its own conservative vision. A joint effort of the Monterey Woods Improvement, Montecito Hills Improvement, and the Huntington Villa Property Owners Associations, the report announced from the outset that “Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Freedom.” Duh. You can imagine where it goes from there. There’s aggrieved property owners, creeping socialism (and “his brother Communism”), “totalitarian” bureaucrats, and, yes, taxes. Certainly, if one is to believe neo noir classics like Denzel Washington’s Devil in a Blue Dress or the Russell Crowe-Guy Pearce vehicle LA Confidential, mid-century Los Angeles oozed sexual intrigue, corruption, and vice. The Rose Hills Report doesn’t quite reach such levels of fictive genius but its authors are definitely writing fiction.

To read the full report, click here.