California is building barely enough new housing amid population growth, although state lawmakers have several options to address the crisis during this legislative session. Meanwhile, rents and home prices continue to soar, which affects the state’s economy. At the same time, no one can seem to agree on the exact source of the problem nor what the best solution might be.
According to long-time columnist Dan Walters in the Fresno Bee, “Housing authorities bluntly say that the core issue isn’t a lack of potential housing development investment but rather the reluctance of local governments to approve new projects, particularly high-density complexes for low- and moderate-income renters, because of “not in my backyard” resistance among homeowners and voters.”
Housing officials say that between 2003 and 2014, California built just 47 percent of the housing that is needed today. Construction slid at one point during the Great Recession to a sixth of pre-recession levels. California’s economy has recovered, but homebuilding has increased to just half of its pre-recession high.
Lawmakers, Walters says, have a few options to mitigate the crisis, including setting aside $250 million for low- and moderate-income housing by charging a one-time document fee on real estate transactions; placing a $3 billion housing bond on the ballot in 2018; and/or forcing cities to comply with state-imposed housing quotas by diluting or eliminating local land use powers.