California scrambles to pick up housing pace

 

The rush is on to find a way to amp up available housing in California. Amid new reports claiming that housing has become unaffordable across the state, legislators, officials and activists have begun a rush for solutions. 

“In its first comprehensive analysis since the year 2000, California’s Department of Housing and Community Development paints a bleak picture of the state’s housing landscape,” KQED reported. “While it points to some hopeful developments, the report suggests lawmakers will need to consider serious policy changes if California is going to build the projected 1.8 million new homes needed by 2025.”

Widespread burdens

Findings suggested that, until then, Californians could continue to face extraordinary pressure in matching their budgets to homes in the places they earn their living. “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines people as ‘cost burdened’ when they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing,” ABC Sacramento noted. “Statewide, more than 3 million households exceed the 30 percent guideline when it comes to paying rent. And more than 1.5 million households see more than half of their income going towards rent. Every county mentioned in the report — from San Francisco to San Diego — is housing burdened.”

His own initial housing plans rebuffed by the state Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown has focused his attention around plans that don’t rely on bigger allocations of funds from Sacramento. “The governor’s office will seek approval of policies to streamline housing construction, lower the cost of homebuilding through reduced local government fees, and to create incentives for local governments to approve more housing,” according to the Orange County Register.

“The governor’s office is pursuing court certification of the ‘No Place Like Home’ program, which will use $2 billion in bond money to create affordable-housing programs for mentally ill homeless people. The budget plan, however, eliminates $400 million for affordable housing since the Legislature failed last year to approve the governor’s plan to streamline the homebuilding approval process.”

Brown laid out the logic behind his initial approach at the news conference where he unveiled his budget plan. “We’ve got to bring down the cost structure of housing and not just find ways to subsidize it,” he said, the Los Angeles Times reported. “What we can do is cut the red tape, cut the delays, cut whatever expenses we can afford to do without to make housing more affordable and therefore increase the stock and therefore hopefully bring down the costs.” The governor’s office has claimed that California suffers a deficit of 100,000 housing units a year based on current population growth projections, the Times added, with residents at the bottom of the income scale facing the most daunting challenges. 

Reshuffling the deck

In Sacramento, lawmakers have advanced a series of bills aimed at reducing the problem by other means. State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has proposed to “free affordable housing projects from compliance with certain local development-related regulations,” Construction Dive noted. “Meanwhile, another state senate bill proposes garnering funding for affordable housing through a $75 tax on real-estate transactions,” while another “would end a tax break on second homes in the state to fund an existing affordable housing program there.”

In the private sector, familiar patterns of construction and opposition have been disrupted by the extent of California’s housing crunch. The crisis has prompted a surprising shift among advocates typically arrayed against the Golden State’s big players in housing, whose heft and risk tolerance are needed assets in any swift and substantial expansion of residential options. “Environmental lawyer Marco Gonzalez spent more than a decade suing real-estate developers in California,” the Wall Street Journal recently noted in a report on the phenomenon. “Now he is on the opposite side, among a growing group of advocates who are taking a once unthinkable approach to development in their backyards: They are trying to force cities to allow more of it.”

12 comments

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  1. Stnding Fast
    Stnding Fast 6 February, 2017, 10:37

    Look folks, California is not a flat wasteland just begging for urban development. Much of it is fragile desert or semi-desert that cannot support high-intensity populations of any species. That is why the native peoples never lived in crowded conditions before the white man came. Now that we have destroyed Paradise by building ugly mega-warehouses, fenced-in housing tracts, oversized shopping centers, and cementing-in all our waterways we are finding life during drought-seasons to be difficult. Do you think a society whose idea of progress is to let their trees die of thirst so more people can move into the neighborhood is going to last very long? California does not need more housing. We don’t need more people. We need to place a moratorium on new development until we repair our streets and highways and bridges and other public infrastructure. No, I am not a socialist or against commerce. I am against stupidity.

    Reply this comment
    • aTaxpayer
      aTaxpayer 6 February, 2017, 14:12

      I strongly agree that moderating new construction until the current infrastructure is amended makes sense.

      The problem with 20/20 hindsight is we all know (now) of the many ways urban development and city planning should have been done. Unless you’re going to demo everything and start over, then complaining about how we’ve ruined the state doesn’t really help matters. We need realistic solutions, minus the guilt.

      I also strongly favor a law that any new houses & businesses built in certain areas of California (like Sacramento) must include solar panels on the roof; we’ve got sun for 10+ hours in most areas of the valley, the ‘city of trees’ notwithstanding; let’s utilize that blazin’ sunshine to what extent we can.

      Reply this comment
      • Queeg
        Queeg 6 February, 2017, 15:26

        Insane……Earth Day ruined people…..this tree hugging crap got to cease…..solar is a con game plain and simple………fake science….

        Reply this comment
  2. Sean
    Sean 6 February, 2017, 11:22

    Geography and the regulatory culture are arrayed against solutions to high housing costs in California with the cost to build low income housing in rural areas of the state nearly equaling the median price of housing in the US. The geography can’t change and the regulatory culture of raising fees and imposing regulations as the solution to any and all problems means the state is stuck with high housing costs until the next recession hits.

    Reply this comment
  3. Truthafuss
    Truthafuss 6 February, 2017, 12:03

    Calif needs less not more.

    Reply this comment
  4. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 6 February, 2017, 14:59

    Well, gee. I don’t know about you, but came to California in 1953. I know how beautiful it used to be before the advent of Redevelopment and Federal Housing programs. I also have long experience dealing with city officials, elected and otherwise, who do not seem to be able to connect the dots between Cause and Effect. I hope I am unloading a lot of guilt on them, they have destroyed our charming cities, our charming countryside, our charming hillsides, our waterways, our very well-being with their development-at-any-cost mentality. The drought is not officially over and they are still yapping about building high-density housing to stimulate some sort of utopian urban-core development, mega-warehouses to stimulate economic activity and jobs, commuter-trains to stimulate a shift from personal transportation to public, and so forth. In other states, new development is small-scale and user-friendly. California does not have to be ugly to be ready for the 21st century. I have no patience with this nonsense about the price of progress being the well-being of the people who live here. If it is ugly, it isn’t progress. And, in my humble opinion, ugly is an absolute value, like beauty. Progress is not the most important thing in the world.

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 6 February, 2017, 15:03

    Comrades

    Same old…..tax someone or tax breaks for someone are the only solutions to a economic nightmare…..the demand for housing is from the hoardes of poor, calculating, seething and budding anarchists of Visigoths, Huns, Thurlingens, Franks and Amerolites…..

    Plutocrats and Publicans will never un-Nimby……diversity flowers only during Turkey Week passing out Ralph’s hard rolls and three year old defrosted turkey down at the gritty Missions…..they feel so good about all that love and high fives….

    This article sucks and is Fake News…..

    Reply this comment
  6. Partybreaker
    Partybreaker 6 February, 2017, 17:58

    We need about 25 million more Mexicans with a 4th grade education.
    That will fix it.

    Reply this comment
  7. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 7 February, 2017, 06:36

    We need a big sink hole to open up and swallow the sate capital building with Moonbeam and Newsom still inside

    Reply this comment
    • Standing Fast
      Standing Fast 7 March, 2017, 15:13

      I do understand your sentiment, and I’m all for seeing the back of Governor Moonbeam and his band of meddling marionettes. But, I draw the line at getting rid of the beautiful, historic old State Capitol Building. Have you ever been there? My favorite place is the Senate Chamber. There, above the Speaker’s Chair, is the Senate Motto in big gold letters, in Latin. It says: “Senatoris est civitatis libertatem tueri”, which, loosely translated without losing any of its luster means “It is the duty of a Senator to protect the Liberty of the People.” My idea of how to deal with the illiterate members of the legislature and occupant of the Governor’s Office is to make them all sit down there and memorize the motto, and require them to listen to my three-day lecture on the Founders’ view of Liberty, and pass a test by answering all the questions correctly before they are allowed to leave the room. If they try to fall asleep while I am talking, an attendant will come by with a prod to wake them up. Lecture to be repeated as often as necessary until they all pass the test. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

      Reply this comment
  8. Queeg
    Queeg 12 February, 2017, 11:25

    Canada and Calif are the magnets. Like fly paper Comrades.

    Reply this comment

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