Welcome to California, a state with a perfect set of laws- at least in the minds of those attached to the legislative pursuit of social justice. Under the one-party Democrat rules, spending on fairness amounts to $100 billion every year. On the contrary, the basic infrastructure of the state, so crucial for the economy long and short term is collapsing. If you are a renter in California concerned about the high cost of living, or looking forward to purchasing your first dream home, then your prospects aren’t looking up.
A full-fledged housing crisis has gripped California, indicated by a severe lack of affordable homes and apartments for middle-class families. The average cost of a home is now a whopping $500,000, twice the national cost and is likely to shoot even higher. Homelessness is streaming across the state. However, the state in co-operation with the local governments are evaluating a series of measures to mitigate the crisis.
The intense rise in housing costs has emerged as a threat to the state’s economy and its quality of life. It has pushed the debate over housing to the center of state and local politics, fueling a resurgent rent control movement and the growth of neighborhood “Yes in my backyard” organizations, battling long-established neighborhood groups and local elected officials as they demand an end to strict zoning and planning regulations.
In Los Angeles, thriving with construction and signs of prosperity, some people have given up on finding a home and has resorted to vans with makeshift kitchens, hidden away in quiet neighborhoods. Also, projections indicate that rents will continue to surge, especially for low and middle-income people. This will especially be in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento, and home prices will become increasingly expensive, according to an economic analysis in the Anderson Forecast released recently. b“It was already bad before, but it’s getting worse,” said David Shulman, a senior economist for the Anderson Forecast.
“California is still attracting high-income people, who are creating an enormous amount of wealth, but low and middle-income people like teachers are leaving because housing has become extraordinarily expensive.” “It’s getting harder and harder to live here,” Shulman said. “The state is running out of people who can afford the $3,500 per-month rents so those prices are beginning to fall, but if you look at the one-bedrooms for $1,500, those rents are continuing to go up.” Market-rate development has outstripped the supply of affordable units. And “regressive” zoning and environmental regulations, combined with California’s reputation as a tech titan are leading to the “hollowing out of the middle class,” Shulman said.
Also, state senator Scott Wiener said in a recent statement as senate took up a range of bills aimed at boosting supply and streamlining of affordable housing that, “By not building enough housing, we are driving up evictions and homelessness, pushing people out of our state and jeopardizing the success of young people,” However, state lawmakers and governor Jerry Brown seems to be on the gridlock over how to help. Last year, Brown proposed setting aside $400 million, but wanted a set of regulatory changes in exchange. The Democratic governor expects to streamline housing development by limiting environmental project reviews, lowering permit requirements that can drive up per-unit costs, providing financial incentives to cities and counties that build new housing and strengthening laws that require low-income set-asides in new construction. This has faced resistance from the lawmakers, environmental groups and unions.
Now, a series of bills in the Legislature that would establish an ongoing source of funding for housing and ease the permitting process for new construction appears headed for a high-stakes legislative test in coming months. Brown is again saying any deal must include the changes he is seeking. However, the governor and lawmakers seem to have other politically difficult issues coming up that may derail a housing deal. Also, Democrats reluctant to pass new fees following their April vote to raise state gas taxes, acknowledge that financial proposals for housing, also requiring a two-thirds vote, could be challenging.
On the contrary, Housing advocates and tenants’ rights groups say the governor and state lawmakers are ignoring one of the biggest problems in California. “It’s shameful that they’re headed on summer recess without doing anything to address what has turned from a crisis to a housing catastrophe,” said Ray Pearl, executive director of the California Housing Consortium, an advocacy group and sponsor of several housing bills this session.
“What the Legislature continues to do is talk instead of act.” “Yes it’s a fee so it takes a two-thirds vote, but I’m optimistic that we can get this one done,” Atkins said. “We’ve been working on it as part of a broader package.” Assembly Bill 71 from Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, would also raise $300 million a year by eliminating the mortgage interest deduction for second homes. It’s opposed by the powerful California Association of Realtors. Other measures seek to accomplish Brown’s goals. Weiner’s Senate Bill 35 would streamline the approval process for affordable housing projects.
Chiu’s Assembly Bill 73 would ease zoning and environmental review rules. “We’ve been having a lot of conversations (about a housing package),” Chiu said. “We need to establish a permanent source of funding, streamlining housing creation and hold cities accountable to actually building it.” In conclusion, we can’t be optimistic about the whole crisis and measures yet to be undertaken since the democrats seem to be reluctant to push for anything going forward that is a tax or a fee.
Not forgetting next year is an election year.
What is our role as citizens concerning the whole crisis? Are we doing it?
Are there any hopes of things getting better?