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.
The measure by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, whose district suffered heavy flood damage in February, would require state agencies to speed up permit processing and approval for certain types of flood-control projects. Current law already allows authorities to exempt or delay permit requirements during emergencies. Yet other high-priority projects still have to go through the normal permitting process. That leads to delays.
Drilling down, the paper found the law drove people to make different choices about work. “Middle-income individuals reduced their labor supply due to the additional tax on earnings while lower income individuals worked more in order to qualify for private insurance,” the authors wrote. “In the aggregate, these countervailing effects approximately balance” in terms of their impact on overall participation rates.
Today almost one-third of Americans need an occupational license to work legally, a number that has increased fivefold since the mid-20th century. Occupations requiring licenses range from practicing physicians to shampooers to fortune tellers. Uncle Sam appears to be taking notice. Maureen Ohlhaussen, acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has recently spearheaded an Economic Liberty Taskforce to address many of the issues caused by the current licensing landscape. . . .Because licensing is controlled by the states, requirements for licenses are not uniform or systematic. The Institute for Justice analyzed the occupations that require licenses and highlighted how they vary by state. For instance, a barber’s license requires almost two and a half years of education and training in Nevada, but only 175 days of training in Wyoming. Moreover, a barber from Nevada could not cut hair in any other state, including the less stringent Wyoming. Cities can further complicate matters by spawning unnecessary restrictions, such as New York City’s new ban on pet sitting without a kennel license. Another traditionally teen job is eliminated by the bureaucracy.
Simple arithmetic reveals why permit streamlining is critical. The state says we need 180,000 new units of housing a year, but we’re building only 100,000 now. Closing that 80,000-unit gap would require more than $26 billion a year in additional investment at the average cost of $332,000 per unit for lower-end housing cited in Brown’s budget. Under even the best circumstances, therefore, the state could provide only a tiny fraction of the needed money, so making it easier for private and non-profit money to flow into actual construction is the most vital element of any package. The major pitfall is that faced with the difficult politics, Brown and legislators will settle for a token response – throwing a few billion dollars at the problem that won’t make even a small dent and failing to enact the regulatory reforms. That not only would ignore the most vital issue, but would allow politicians to claim a face-saving, undeserved victory, much as they did for a roadway improvement package that covers only a fraction of the unmet need.