Housing is a problem in much of California. Prices are high and rising fast in most areas close to the coast. To find affordable housing, millions of people make long commutes with some people spending three or four hours per day driving to and from work. In many cities, long-time residents complain about gentrification forcing them out of rental apartments, leaving them unable to find new, affordable housing, and changing the character of neighborhoods. Everyone knows a problem exists. Unfortunately, most California politicians and activists are relying on exactly the wrong policies to fix the situation.
The reason coastal California is experiencing a crisis of affordable housing is simple: the supply of new housing has not been sufficient for the increase in employment and population. In the nine-county San Francisco metro, commonly referred to as the Bay Area, there has been a recent uptick in home building that has seen about 20,000 housing units added per year, enough to be considered a building boom by local standards. Yet, from November 2016 to November 2017, employment in the same nine counties rose by about 74,000.