SACRAMENTO — Perhaps it’s the sign of Capitol hubris, but lawmakers in the waning days of the legislative session touted their “housing package” as a big part of the solution to California’s ongoing housing “crisis.” It’s an actual crisis.
Prices and rents are so high that they lead to an exodus of our kids to lower-cost states. It depresses job creation, as companies avoid locating in places where their employees cannot afford to live. Housing is the prime reason California has the nation’s highest poverty rate, at more than 20 percent, using the Census Bureau’s cost-of-living-adjusted measure.
But it didn’t take long before “experts” recognized what this columnist confidently predicted: The trio of bills, which were signed by the governor Friday, will do little to fix things. “Housing experts say” the legislative package “is the most ambitious move the state has taken in decades — and perhaps ever — to address the issue,” reported the Sacramento Bee. “Even years down the road, the measures will not stop rents from increasing or home prices from trending upwards.”
The San Jose Mercury News paraphrases the results of a new UCLA Anderson Forecast: “California appears unlikely to be able to build enough homes in the coming years to put a meaningful dent in skyrocketing housing prices triggered by a shortage of affordable dwellings.” The state, it concludes, needs 20 percent more housing to reduce prices modestly. That’s not going to happen, with or without the housing package.
The housing plan will boost supply by throwing tax dollars at high-density low-income projects. One bill reduces some regulations — but only for certain projects that pay inflated union wage rates. It will help a little and then hurt a lot. As someone who has long covered local government, it’s clear the main problems are city hall and your neighbors. Whenever I write about housing, people send nasty notes. They are tired of congestion and…