San Francisco Chronicle: An unceasing housing crisis
California’s housing crisis isn’t easing anytime soon.
That’s the message from the latest Anderson forecast, a quarterly economic analysis from UCLA.
Projections show that rents will continue to surge, especially for low- and moderate-income people in coastal areas of California, and that home prices will continue to spiral out of reach for first-time home buyers.
California has been fortunate to experience a long economic recovery following the financial meltdown and Great Recession of 2008-9, writes senior economist David Shulman in the June forecast.
But thanks to a variety of grim reasons, California’s housing starts remain far below prior peaks.
The impact has been a housing crisis shouldered disproportionately by young people seeking to buy their first homes, and by those with lower and more moderate incomes seeking affordable housing near job centers.
Housing “activity is being depressed by higher credit standards, slow income growth, the ‘hollowing out’ of the middle class, the delay in making commitments on the part of the millennial generation and regressive regulation in growing employment centers on both coasts,” writes Shulman.
“The latter is making housing unaffordable for households at the median income in those cities.”
Regressive regulation is one of the few items where state leaders could move quickly enough to create real change in California’s housing market. So it’s frustrating to note how little change seems to be afoot on this subject in Sacramento.
State legislators were slow to wake up to the crisis, and even now they’re hesitant to take the kinds of steps California needs at a moment like this. For example, last week’s budget deal didn’t include any new money for affordable housing.
After a tough vote to raise the state gas tax in April, many legislators are hesitant to pass any more difficult propositions that could require new fees or taxes. Yet it’s hard to see how California can get out of this crisis without bold leadership.
For the past couple of years, Gov. Jerry Brown has pushed the state Legislature to streamline cumbersome regulations to affordable housing development, even offering incentives and a special fund for housing.
This year, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has a bill, SB35, with similar goals to the governor’s.
Streamlining the state’s regressive zoning and development laws in exchange for the housing we need is not an easy compromise for state legislators, but it’s a wise one. The alternative is the status quo — a housing crisis that’s pricing out more and more Californians.
Read the editorial on the San Francisco Chronicle website