Gavin Newsom announces new plan calling for housing boom

SACRAMENTO – If the past is any guide, California’s Legislature will declare its recently passed housing-affordability package a success and move on to the many other priorities that dominate Capitol discussions once lawmakers return in January.

But the housing package – a spate of measures that increase funding for subsidized housing programs and reduce regulations for building certain high-density projects – is unlikely to halt debate about housing policy as home prices remain high.

For instance, median home prices in the Bay Area topped $740,000 last month and topped $700,000 in Orange County – breaking records and raising concerns about a new housing “bubble.” Statewide, median housing prices have topped $469,000, which is driving down homeownership rates and keeping the state’s cost-of-living-based poverty rates above 20 percent.

Virtually everyone, left and right, agrees that the state is facing a crisis. Candidates for the 2018 gubernatorial election, which is starting to heat up, are likely to make housing a core component of their campaigns. So far, Republican candidates John Cox, a San Diego-area businessman, and Assemblyman Travis Allen, a Huntington Beach conservative, have largely called for reducing housing regulations, but have not offered detailed plans.

Democrat John Chiang, currently the state treasurer, has touted his efforts to promote affordable housing programs. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has focused on bringing back government-directed redevelopment-style low-income housing programs. The partisan approaches are not surprising – and not particularly detailed, at least not yet.

The big surprise so far is that Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom, the current lieutenant governor and leader in the major public-opinion polls, has released a fairly thorough housing blueprint. It suggests that housing will be a top priority in his high-profile campaign – and his proposals embrace the main concepts touted by Democrats and Republicans alike.

“Simply put, we’re experiencing a housing affordability crisis, driven by a simple economic argument,” Newsom argued in a new post on the Medium web site. “California is leading the national recovery but it’s producing far more jobs than homes.” Here’s where the plan makes headlines: He’s calling for the development of 3.5 million new housing units by 2025, which would mean a near quadrupling of the state’s annual housing production.

That’s not an unreasonable number. In the last dozen years, “California has only produced 308 housing units for every 1,000 new residents,” he explained. Given continued population growth, “it’s obvious we’re not on pace to meet that demand.”

Typical of a Democratic official, Newsom called for more funding for affordable housing, including support for the $4 billion housing bond that is going on the November 2018 ballot. It was part of the Legislature’s housing package. Newsom also called for increasing the state’s funding of affordable-housing tax credits from $85 million to $500 million.

Taking a similar line as Chiang and Villaraigosa, Newsom called for replacing local housing programs that had previously been funded through the state’s controversial redevelopment agencies, which were shut down by Gov. Jerry Brown during the 2011 budget act, as a means to help the state plug its then-gaping budget hole. The agencies had siphoned around 13 percent of the state’s general fund budget to subsidize economic-development projects including housing.

But the real news is Newsom’s focus on “regulatory reform and creating new financial incentives for local jurisdictions that produce housing while penalizing those that fall flat.” Under the old redevelopment system, cities did indeed subsidize low-income housing. But the tax-increment financing scheme, by which cities were incentivized to permit tax-generating retail complexes, led to the overall underdevelopment of housing projects, according to various state analyses.

Those problems still exist. “Cities have a perverse incentive not to build housing because retail generates more lucrative sales tax revenue,” Newsom wrote. “The bigger the box, the better, because cities can then use the sales tax for core public services.” He doesn’t offer many details, but Newsom wants to revamp the tax system to “financially reward cities that produce housing and punish those that fail.” He’s reviving the old debate about the “fiscalization of land use,” but there’s little doubt that local incentives have a major impact on housing permits.

Echoing Gov. Brown, Newsom notes that solving the problem will take more than “throwing money” at it. He calls for “implementing regulatory reform and creating new financial incentives for local jurisdictions” – issues that will bolster conservatives who want to see more market-based housing.

Indeed, California builders have argued that they are more than capable of meeting the needs – if only government regulations and local land-use controls were loosened enough to enable them to build more. His plan will annoy conservatives, though, as he also calls for stronger tenant protections as the state streamlines the permitting process.

Most significantly, the Newsom plan – with its myriad details and mixture of elements from right, center and left – is sure to focus the early campaign on this significant issue. An energized housing debate should warm the hearts of all Californians who are concerned that housing prices are soaring beyond the reach of most California families.

Steven Greenhut is a Sacramento-based writer. Write to him at [email protected]


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  1. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 25 October, 2017, 11:15

    Everyone who lives in California should understand that Affordable Housing is made possible by lowering building & safety standards for the houses and apartments that are built under its auspices.

    Check out HUD and the State’s Uniform Building Code, and compare the standards.

    This is what used to happen under the California Redevelopment Agencies. The CRAs were shut down in 2011, but the law is still on the books. The California Legislature is in the process of resurrecting the old program in worse form under a new name.

    Also, California does not need more housing. We need fewer people. Advocates of an open border think taxpayers owe people who come across illegally a place to live. They also tend to advocate for stricter gun laws, preferably a ban on private ownership.

    Anyway, Californians are living in a fool’s paradise.

    We ought not depend on science and technology for solutions to our housing, transportation, water, power and social and environmental issues. There is a reason few people lived here before the White Man came (don’t get excited, I am a white woman myself). It’s because there wasn’t enough regular rainfall to keep our arid and semi-arid areas blooming.

    None of which makes sense. Carting water from elsewhere or building de-salinization plants to accommodate foolishness is not a rational solution.

    We can’t have a high-density population and retain any kind of livable space. California used to be a beautiful place, but not anymore. And we are about the wreck what little is left of its original charm.

    No, I do not believe science is the salvation of mankind. Science is interesting, but it is being abused by people who do not believe in the Laws of Cause and Effect, a.k.a.: The Laws of God and Nature.

    Reply this comment
    • Virgin Mary
      Virgin Mary 28 October, 2017, 12:51

      A residential population ceiling ?
      Fornication contract forms available at the library and drug store ?
      Breeding permits for who issued by what regulatory body?

      Reply this comment
      • Standing Fast
        Standing Fast 28 October, 2017, 15:17

        My dear, you miss my point entirely. I made no suggestion about how to achieve a rational public policy regarding development of our resources. I’m only pointing out that California is not a candidate for high-density population. Human beings are not endowed with either power or authority to overcome the Laws of the Universe. Those who think they can end up on the scrap heap of history, along with anyone who follows them. Plus other people who got in the way.

        Right now, it is possible to adjust our attitude in such a way that we can formulate a rational policy without violating anyone’s rights. The longer we wait, the harder it will be for those who come after us.

        Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 25 October, 2017, 11:58


    Mexico City and other huge South America cities amazingly grow by physical blocks overnight!

    The poor come to gleen in big cities….lifestyle horrors like SF, La, Sacramento, San Diego are busting their sordid seams…..

    Laughable, hilarious that slimy Plutocrats think raising every tax known to man or raising housing bond debt to the moon will provide housing growth for the infinite quantity of gleeners!

    Humans only care about self preservation…..nothing else…..they always innovate, scheme, juke, troll, whatever to stay alive, thrive, unintentionally but unfortunately denegrate, pillage……so watch the hopelessness….the physical blocks grow in California large cities!

    Reply this comment
    • Standing Fast
      Standing Fast 26 October, 2017, 11:16

      Comrade Queeg:

      You are correct in what you say, but things are not entirely hopeless. For there is an ancient code of morality that goes back to the hunter-gatherer days of our ancestors known to us as The Golden Rule. America’s founding generation considered them to be the summation of all of the Laws of God and the Laws of Nature.

      [See Sumerian literature, Torah, Psalms, Ancient Greek Stoic philosophers, Cicero, Philo, The Apostle Paul, Thomas Aquinas, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, Sir Edward Coke, Roger Williams, Westminster Confession, John Locke, William Penn, Trenchard & Gordon, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Jonathan Mayhew, John Adams, William Blackstone, John Witherspoon, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison…Abraham Lincoln. This philosophy does not run through Voltaire, Rousseau, Barlowe, Mill, Spencer, Ayn Rand, or the arguments used by the Confederacy for States’ Rights.]

      The Golden Rule is the civilizing lesson that says to treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated: respect their lives, persons, property, family, and rights to equal justice before the law, come and go as they please, associate with whom they please and pursue happiness. It applied, more or less, to the members of your own group however small or large it may be. In prehistoric times or primitive societies even today, it does not apply to outsiders. Many people in first-world countries still haven’t quite mastered this lesson.

      However, at every stage in the advancement of human society from hunter-gatherer bands to civilization (band, clan, tribe, city, state, nation, empire, civilization) the code of morality is extended to include more and more people. Otherwise, societies would have no peace, trade would be impossible, and there would be no prosperity or happiness. [See “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond]

      The Pax Romana was an example of how this works. The history of England is another example. The history of the United States is yet another. I do not want to hear about all the failures of our society, people. If you think the United States is the worst society ever on earth, you have not been reading your history. Please avoid revisionists. Read primary sources as much as possible.

      The period of adjustment between one stage and the next is both unpredictable and fluid. Some societies adjust quickly, others not at all for a very long time. Hint to the politically-correct: there is no society that does this perfectly, and nobody ever claimed that they did.

      The ultimate teaching on the Golden Rule came almost two thousand years ago when somebody asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” This was a good question, as religious Jews of Judea were not sure if they should be respectful to the Romans who occupied their country. Jesus had a good idea why he was asking, and was ready with the answer that turned the question on its head. And his parable conveyed an even more important point.

      This is the time Jesus told the story of The Good Samaritan. Now, Samaritans were scorned in Judea for various reasons. So, when a Samaritan businessman stopped to help a man who had been robbed and beaten almost to death by highwaymen after having been shunned by righteous and respected gentlemen of the local villages, it would have been big news.

      After he related the parable, Jesus did not say “Everyone”. Instead, he asked the young man: “Who was the good neighbor?”

      Well, you see, he was making the point that everyone we meet is our neighbor, therefore the Golden Rule applies to everybody, and rather than find fault with those who do not live by this Rule, we should mind our own business–which is to treat everyone with respect and courtesy. The question Jesus intending his listeners to ask themselves is: “Are YOU the good neighbor?”

      (Hint, Jesus’parable does not mean say we have no right to self-defense. Our well-being as individuals and societies require that we set boundaries to protect ourselves from bullies and tyrants as long as we do not cross over the boundaries of our neighbors.)

      The Golden Rule is Enlightened Self-Interest applied. The Golden Rule is part of the principle of Liberty. Common Courtesy is based on this principle.

      So, what we do is live by the Laws of God (Ten Commandments, Golden Rule, Sermon on the Mount) and the Laws of Nature (Golden Rule, Euclid, Newton, Einstein). And teach our children, by precept and example, to do the same.

      For some good reading in primary sources: Liberty Fund, Inc.

      Reply this comment
      • Ulyssess Uhaul
        Ulyssess Uhaul 26 October, 2017, 15:18

        We have rules around here……dusty tomes, tortured psych trips, finally crying out, sweaty palms and cracking, doomer ranting are…well….are……

        In other words….

        Short and pitheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeèe

        Reply this comment
  3. nifongnation
    nifongnation 26 October, 2017, 00:45

    useless commie worm no better than moonbeam.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bubba
    Bubba 26 October, 2017, 12:25

    What ever happens you can rest assured that if Newsom and his cohorts get their fingers in the Poe it will go from bad to worse

    Reply this comment
  5. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 27 October, 2017, 11:32

    Comrade Queeg:

    Some things are timeless. The Golden Rule is one of them. If you want to make the world a better place, this is what you have to do.

    Please bear in mind that because it is part of the Principle of Reciprocity (like Liberty, to which it is related), obedience to its principles must be voluntary. No force or coercion. If it isn’t voluntary, it doesn’t produce the desired results.

    And, those results depend upon the cumulative and accumulating blessings that come from obedience.

    If you want to do the math, read the Ten Commandments. In the first Table there is a commandment that tells you of the relative power of obedience compared to the relative power of disobedience.

    “Duty is ours, the results are God’s.”
    John Quincy Adams

    Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 27 October, 2017, 14:25

    I wonder if this dip-wad is going to run for govenor him and moonbeam are total idiots

    Reply this comment
  7. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 3 November, 2017, 23:55

    I realy wish this dweeb would make himself scarce along with Moonbeam Brown

    Reply this comment

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Steven Greenhut

Steven Greenhut

Steven Greenhut is CalWatchdog’s contributing editor. Greenhut was deputy editor and columnist for The Orange County Register for 11 years. He is author of the new book, “Plunder! How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation.”

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