NIMBYism slams CA economy

Housing bubblesJuly 19, 2013

By Joseph Perkins

Chris Thornberg is one of the most astute analysts of the California housing market. Back in 2005, when he was senior economist for Anderson UCLA Forecast, he appeared on a San Francisco radio show I hosted, “The Bay Area Housing Report.”

I questioned his assessment that a ginormous housing bubble had reared itself here in California. I challenged his warning that it was only a matter of time before the bubble burst, causing protracted damage to the state economy.

I thought Thornberg overly bearish. I shared the view of many economists (including former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan) that, while median home prices would not continue to increase by 10 percent or more a year, as they did during the go-go days of the housing boom, the housing market would have a soft, rather than hard, landing.

Well, I was wrong. And Thornberg was absolutely right.

New housing warnings

Eight years later, the gimlet-eyed economist has moved from UCLA Anderson to Beacon Economics, a consulting firm he cofounded. And Thornberg is sounding fresh warnings about the housing market.

Not about the return of rapidly rising home prices. But about NIMBYism — Not in My Back Yard-ism. He argues it has created artificial housing shortages in California’s population centers, which threatens the state’s long-term economic health.

In an essay published this week in the Los Angeles Times, Thornberg cites the examples of two major housing developments in the so-called City of Angels, Casden West L.A. and Il Villaggio Toscano.

Both have been substantially downsized because of NIMBY activism by no-growth community groups to which L.A.’s faux-populist politicians shamelessly pander.

Casden West L.A. planned to build more than 600 housing units, along with 160,000 square feet of retail space, adjacent to the Metro Expo Line in West L.A. It’s the kind of transit-oriented “infill” development that’s held out as “smart growth.”

Yet, after fierce opposition by NIMBY groups, the developers of Casden West L.A. last month were forced to reduce the number of homes by 7 percent. And of that 7 percent, more than 10 percent of units were required to be “inclusionary” housing, to be sold at below-market rates to lower-income buyers.

As to the retail, the developers of Casden West L.A. were forced to reduce that by all of 90 percent.

Housing reduction

The developers of Il Villaggio Toscanco had a similar bad experience at the hands of NIMBY activists. The mixed-use, urban infill project in Sherman Oaks was to have 500 residential units along with high-end retail. But by the time the local neighborhood council finally approved the development this past May, the number of homes were reduced 20 percent.

Such NIMBYism is not unique to L.A., Thornberg pointed out. It is commonplace throughout coastal California.

“Add up the downsized and failed projects,” he decries, “and the net result is a state housing shortage.” And because of that shortage, the economist explained, “Seven of the 10 least affordable housing markets in the nation are in California.”

In Thornberg’s estimation, “California’s lack of housing is by far the greatest threat to our economic growth.”

And the only way the state is going to produce the housing California needs, is if the NIMBY groups that wield disproportionate influence not only in L.A., but practically every population center throughout the state, are no longer able exercise de facto veto power over housing development.


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  1. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 19 July, 2013, 12:12

    No sweat doomer boys. Who in heck wants to rub shoulders with bunker types in Boron, Madera, Adelanto, Perris… keep yours…we keep ours.

    Reply this comment
  2. Gonzo
    Gonzo 19 July, 2013, 13:36

    All of Cali coastal towns want to be Santa Barbara. We got ours and all the rest of you go inland! Be gone with you. But what time can you get here to fix my fence and mow my lawn?

    Reply this comment
  3. Hondo
    Hondo 19 July, 2013, 14:04

    My fine liberal friends here support idiotic amounts of illegal immigration to Kali but don’t want one more house built to house them. Just where are they supposed to sleep? Commute from Reno?
    The coastal commission is off the scale. They are all left wing liberals, and all of them support idiotic amounts of illegal immigration. But I’d hazard a guess that if you took the demographics of the population that is covered by the coastal commission, you’d see a raciest, Betty White population with some of the lowest levels of blacks and hispanics.
    I hope some of my lilly white liberal friends here can prove me wrong.

    Reply this comment
  4. Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do!
    Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do! 19 July, 2013, 14:54

    LOL Poor Honda the angry Doomer-Clown thinks the CCC is “all left wing liberals”! LMAO

    He has no idea about the conservatives on the panel! Hurry Honda——-run to Google!


    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 19 July, 2013, 15:30

    Teddy….this guy is what is wrong with goose stepping conservatives…good to intellectually slap him around…..good work!

    Reply this comment
  6. Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do!
    Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do! 19 July, 2013, 15:32

    Gracias U Haul– I’d “pack and ship” ™ him but I’d miss the training beating I get to administer when the mood strikes!

    Reply this comment
  7. us citizen
    us citizen 19 July, 2013, 17:16

    Sorry I dont see the problem. There are too many people in this state as it is. How many more cars is that going to put on our already awful freeways? I also dont think it is right for someone to move into a complex where he gets a break on the price and the guy next door to him doesnt. You want fair……..this aint it. If I moved into a place like this and paid a lot more, Id raise hell.

    Reply this comment
  8. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 20 July, 2013, 07:56

    It’s not just NIMBY, it’s NIMC, (Not In My Country).
    You all DO realize that this ‘Stack-n-Pack’ housing based around mass transit hubs is all promoted in accordance with the UN ‘Agenda 21’, right?
    And the subsidies for low-income families is blatant ‘Wealth Re-distribution’ that our fearless leader is so fond of.

    As an American who believes this Country’s Founding Documents are the most important thing that ever happened in recorded history I ask you: Where in the Constitution is any of this provided for?

    And for those shallow pates who are about to type ‘the general welfare’ go read the whole Constitution and follow up with the Federalist Papers. Focus upon the ‘enumerated powers’. And if you still think it’s worth the argument then go ahead and type that.

    Reply this comment
  9. Hondo
    Hondo 20 July, 2013, 13:13

    My fine liberal friends here just proved my point. They called me names because they can’t answer my arguments. Every time they call me a name, I win. My arguments that their policies are the racist’s ones are unanswered and are there fore true.
    I left the democratic party because I refuse to take part in the liberals genocide of blacks. See Detroit. The crime rate has gone down there because they are, literally, running out of blacks left to kill.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 21 July, 2013, 20:20

    Hondo haul your single wide to Detroit….do good works…we admire your service!

    Reply this comment

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