But the massive industry shutdown seven years ago that sent workers scattering is having a residual effect. Builders are having a hard time bringing those workers back. They cite several reasons: Many of those laid-off workers retired during the recession or “aged out” of the more physically demanding trades. Some took up other jobs and are reluctant to re-enter the industry, fearful the bottom might fall out again. Still others are commuting to work in the Bay Area, where the home-construction market is hotter.
Interaction between SB 32 and CEQA would likely, at a minimum, result in the immediate imposition of a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) standard on new construction in California. The initial effect would be a sharp reduction in new construction activity, which would persist until developers and contractors acquired a sufficient level of expertise and capacity to satisfy the stringent new ZNE requirements. Such a slowdown would have ripple effects throughout the entire economy, potentially reducing gross state product by $18 billion, and employment by 285,000 jobs.
During the 2010-14 period, for example, Los Angeles County’s population grew by nearly a quarter-million, but it added fewer than 40,000 housing units. During the same period, San Francisco, despite its geographic limitations, grew by nearly 50,000, but built fewer than 10,000 housing units.
In a decision that could impact developers across the state, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday to allow Los Angeles and other cities to require that developers provide affordable housing as a condition of getting building permits.
Neither “smart growth” nor public subsidies have solved California’s housing crisis because the solution does not arise from more regulations or wealth transfers. The shortest path to more supply and affordability is to redirect public investment into public works and drain the litigation and regulatory swamps that provide the institutional support for the exclusive enclaves created in coastal California.
Based on those cities’ building permit processing history over the last three to five years and estimates from about 20 development companies, Reaser’s group concluded that regulation could represent up to 55.9 percent or $480,746 of the cost of a new $860,000 apartment or condo in Carlsbad.
Living in decent, affordable, and reasonably located housing is vitally important to every Californian. Unfortunately, housing in California is extremely expensive and, as a result, many households are forced to make serious trade-offs in order to live here. While many factors have a role in driving California’s high housing costs, the most important is the significant shortage of housing in the state’s highly coveted coastal communities. We advise the Legislature to address this housing shortfall by changing policies to facilitate significantly more private home and apartment building in California’s coastal urban communities.
The San Francisco metro area – where the $952,162 median home price is more than twice the state median – seems to have all the symptoms that the state’s legislative analyst office says causes a housing sickness across California’s coastal cities. High housing costs in those cities are caused by insufficient supply, which are in turn caused by community resistance, environmental objections and scarce land.
“California’s unfortunate evolution into a society of haves and have-nots has many root causes, but a highly distorted housing market looms very large. We have the nation’s second highest home prices (only Hawaii is higher) and, not surprisingly, its third lowest level of homeownership.”
California’s high housing costs are crimping economic productivity, increasing poverty rates, lowering homeownership, increasing crowding and lengthening commute times, a new state report says.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins announced a sweeping affordable housing plan Tuesday that would impose new real estate fees and expand tax credits as a way to house the needy.
Despite the recovery, California is still experiencing the aftereffects of the most recent housing bust, and the long-term challenges of housing California’s population haven’t gone away. The housing bubble, which popped in 2008, left the state with a foreclosure problem and large losses of construction jobs. About 652,000 California homeowners remain “underwater”—their mortgages are higher than the market value of their homes (CoreLogic, 2014 second quarter). Paradoxically, a housing recovery for some is a housing problem for others, as high rents and increasing prices place housing out of reach for many Californians.
The responses fell into two broad categories – anger that existing gas taxes and other transportation revenues had been diverted into non-transportation uses, and skepticism that the Department of Transportation could be trusted to do the needed work.
So much of California’s land is off limits from development – and government rules impose high costs on builders who want to construct anything on the remaining, developable land. It’s not a surprise the state has many of the nation’s priciest markets, and current policies are likely to exacerbate the problem.