Well, one way to think about it is that people really like the security of homeownership. They like it so much that when there’s a huge proportion of renters in the city, they band together to vote themselves a sort of property rights in their rental housing. Call it “quasi-homeownership.” In California, New York, Washington, etc., it is very hard to evict renters, and in a lot of these cities, a substantial portion of the housing stock is rent-controlled or publicly run.
Once people have acquired these quasi-property rights in their housing, they may start agitating for the same sorts of things that homeowners are thought to want, such as restrictions on the ability to build nearby. After all, renters like light and space and easy parking, too.
Homeownership is not the one-step solution to financial riches that people used to imagine. But neither is it necessarily a bad idea financially. And it may not even turn you into a NIMBY. So if you want to invest in a split-level and some custom drapes, go right ahead, as long as you can afford a sizable down payment and a sensible mortgage.