We in California are in the midst of an extreme housing crisis. One way this shows up is as exorbitant prices to both buy and rent homes throughout the state. I’m fine with high prices, so long as they’re affordable. Unfortunately, they’re not: home affordability in our area is absolutely terrible. It’s about 15% to 18%, which means only 15% to 18% of households can afford to purchase a median-priced home. And that affordability figure is calculated using an assumption buyers have 20% for the down payment, which many would-be buyers do not.
Rental housing isn’t much better, so we have a lot of people living in unsafe, expensive, or overcrowded homes. You’ve probably noticed the tent cities popping up under freeway overpasses and bridges everywhere. It’s shocking to see, considering we live in an area and time of almost unimaginable wealth. It’s a stark and unavoidable sign of how severe the issue is.
Fortunately, California legislators are doing something about it at last. Recently, San Francisco Senator Scott Weiner introduced SB-827, which would radically alter planning and zoning laws in California. It would require high-density housing within close proximity to transit stops and corridors.
This is a radical step, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Please support Senator Weiner and SB-827. Call your own state representatives and let them know you support more housing for California.
On the other hand, there are efforts afoot to increase rent control throughout California. I know this may feel like a good idea to some of you, and I’m sympathetic to that sentiment. I know it will be seen as helping out a lot of folks, but rent control will have the unintended consequence of reducing supply of new rental housing. At a time when we’re in desperate need of new housing, doing anything that reduces new construction is fundamentally misguided.
Thankfully, a recent legislative effort to increase rent control, AB-1506 was defeated in committee. AB-1506 would have repealed Costa-Hawkins, which has kept rent control at bay in California for over 20 years. Other non-governmental organizations are working on a statewide ballot measure for November 2018 to accomplish this same goal. If you see someone collecting signatures for the “California Local Rent Control” initiative the next time you’re at Safeway, my advice is to give them a wink and a smile and keep walking.
We really are in a housing crisis in California. We really need to do everything we can to build more housing and reject any move that would reduce the construction of more housing.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this, so if you have any thoughts you’d like to share or you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to speak with you.