The Southern California pattern is similar to what’s happening throughout the nation. A National Association of Realtors survey found home sellers had lived in their homes for nine or 10 years in recent years, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. Historically, the average was six to seven years. “It’s not a California issue,” Yun said. “People nationwide are staying in their homes longer.”
California’s rent control movement, strongest in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is again gaining steam as the state faces an extreme housing shortage that has led to skyrocketing rents and rampant tenant displacement. State officials call it an unprecedented crisis, exacerbated by the erosion of state and federal funding for low-income housing development. Activists are launching new rent control campaigns up and down the state, from Sacramento to Pacific to Glendale.
Despite the frequent portrayal of long commuting as the norm, only 2.2 percent of the nation’s workers travel 90 minutes or more, one way to work. Moreover, that long commuting is concentrated in and near just a few combined statistical areas (CSAs), the larger the larger metropolitan area definition that combines adjacent metropolitan areas like Bridgeport-Stamford with New York, San Jose with San Francisco and Riverside-San Bernardino with Los Angeles. Figure 1 shows that 17 of the 25 metropolitan areas with the largest share of 90-plus minute commuters are in or adjacent to just four combined statistical areas (CSAs). . . . None of this is surprising, considering that each of these markets is plagued by urban containment land use policies that force up house prices. Harvard research indicates that domestic migration is being driven by the differential in house prices and people have been leaving the New York, Washington and San Francisco CSAs for other parts of the country. Seattle has done better, simply because its expensive housing is still a bargain compared to the much more onerous house costs in coastal California, from which migrants are being drawn.
A constant tenet of Marin County’s guiding ethos is resistance to growth, manifesting itself in a kind of environmental apartheid. Under the guise of preserving a serene environment, Marin County’s residents and politicians use every means possible to avoid building new housing that would allow more population growth, particularly low- or moderate-income dwellings. They’ve been remarkably successful. Between 1969 and 2015, while California’s population was doubling, Marin County’s grew by just 28.4 percent. . . . When California’s housing shortfall became acute and the state government started getting serious about the housing quotas it had been assigning to communities, Marin County’s assemblyman, Democrat Marc Levine, carried a 2014 bill to exempt it from quotas until 2023, arguing that Marin needed more time to get it right. However, without waiting for a scheduled report on the county’s progress on meeting its housing quotas, Levine persuaded legislative leaders last month to insert into a budget “trailer bill” (Senate Bill 106) a brief passage that extends Marin County’s exemption from quotas for an additional five years, until 2028.
A developer wants to build 4,400 new homes there — one of the largest projects recently proposed in one of the country’s most unaffordable regions. The development would overlook a railway that drops riders into the heart of San Francisco in 15 minutes, reducing the need for cars and cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that come from them. State and regional leaders have endorsed the project. But its fate rests with Brisbane, a city of 4,700 people that annexed the property 55 years ago. And no one, not even the developer, thinks Brisbane’s residents will approve all 4,400 homes.