Have you paid any attention to Governor Jerry Brown’s new plan to increase housing in California? Guess what – it totally matches up with what THC and the California Legislative Analyst’s Office have been telling you all year!
Essentially, Jerry’s plan consists of lessening – or practically doing away with – some major obstacles to developing urban housing. The caveat, from THC’s and the LAO’s standpoint, is that 20% of those units have to be set aside for affordable housing.
Here’s a pretty damn good and balanced article in the LA Times that examines the issue from a few angles:
Brown’s plan is in sharp contrast to providing ever-increasing and ineffective housing subsidies to those in need, because the housing stock just isn’t keeping up with demand. We hate to hit with an impromptu economics lesson (we’ll warn you next time!), but increasing the supply of housing drives the price of housing down. Go figure!
As an added bonus, Brown’s program doesn’t lean on government spending to solve the problem – he just wants to open the door for private developers to do what they do. Huzzah, we say!
In the interest of fair-play and fully informing you folk, here is a link to an Op-Ed that ran in the San Jose Mercury recently that opposes the Governor’s plan in favor of investing heavily in housing subsidies.
So, in our mind, this plan is a step in the right direction – but it doesn’t go far enough.
And according to this other piece from the LA Times, the wise folks over at the Legislative Analyst’s Office say that Jerry’s housing plan doesn’t go far enough to incentivize developer’s to create more housing also. The LAO argues that any type of restriction to include low-income housing in a project is counter-productive. As we in Humboldt can surely attest, limiting what people can build is a sure-fire way to ensure that nothing gets built at all.
So, the question that people who support mandating the inclusion of low-income housing in development projects is this: is it better to keep clamoring for a system which would cost “$1.3 billion and produce up to 25,000 units over time” (like the plan that CA Assembly Democrats put forward), or should we go with a plan that loosens restrictions on developers in order to increase housing for everyone? Also remember, from above, that the State’s estimated need for housing exceeds 100,000 units more than is currently projected to be built per year, meaning that 25,000 units over time is an expensive and ineffective crock of bullshit.
A follow-up question would be: do you actually want to make a difference for people who need housing, or do you just want to cry about how the lack of housing is developers’ fault and feel good about yourself?
Of course, THC has written ad nauseam about how increasing the overall housing stock in California is the best option by economists, academics, and other people who actually know stuff. You can read a couple of those THC posts below:
In other exciting, and increasing-the-housing, related news, an excerpt from the same article we linked early in this post has this to say:
“Brown rarely endorses bills still pending in the Legislature, but as part of his housing package on Friday he announced his support for three bills aimed at boosting housing supply . Legislation by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) would make it easier for homeowners to add a second unit to their property. Another Bloom bill would allow developers to build at higher densities if they include affordable units as part of their projects.”