Eber: Less is more

California has a housing crisis.  Like all the other crisis’ facing the State, it is government made—homelessness, druggies, crime, failed schools, inflation, the lack of energy and water.  All of these can be traced to government policies.

Is the current vision of the legislature to virtually eliminate the construction of new single family homes in California a practical policy?  

​No, it is not a practical policy to eliminate the construction of new single-family homes.  The majority of people entering their late 20’s and 30’s dream of living in a single-family home where they can raise their families on safe streets with good schools, and access to services.

Locally elected officials in touch with their constituents know that. For years, the local jurisdictions have created 8-year General Plans that account for multiple dimensions of community health.  But the state legislature seems intent on eliminating local control which stands in the way of developer/investor profits; what’s been called “the financialization of housing.”  Instead, legislators are moving unaccountable power into the hands of bureaucrats.  Local control has been the mainstay of democracy, but it gets in the way of the greedy side of capitalism. “

Until we elect people that want to solve problems, not make them worse our choices are simple.  Sit around and be quiet—or find a Free State in which to live.  California is no longer livable for decent and honest families and businesses.

Less is more by Richard Eber

Richard Eber,  Exclusive to the California Political News and Views  9/29/22

In golf utilizing a long backswing is not a very effective way of striking a 2 foot gimmy putt. Improving the contents of a martini never involves adding equal amounts of vermouth. Screaming at ones mother-in-law is a sure recipe to insure a date in divorce court.

In life a “less is more” approach to problems is often a better alternative than pouring kerosene over a raging fire.

Such a “point of information” truth apparently has not reached Sacramento where the state has attempted for the past quarter century to remedy the lack of affordable housing by increasing government involvement in the process.

Under the leadership of Senator Scott Wiener (D San Francisco several bills have been passed over the years that has striven to replace local control of zoning decisions with heavy handed tactics emanating from Sacramento.  Even with subsidies from the state to encourage affordable housing, the cost of land, expensive environmental studies, and a time consuming sky high permit process make it difficult to build much of anything.

Add in Project Labor Agreements (PLA), when government assistance is involved, it is no wonder California’s housing shortage continues unabated.

This dismal situation is made worse with continuous law suits from local communities who object to mandates from the State which often includes a deficient amount of parking spaces, lack of water, traffic congestion, classroom space in schools, police protection, recreational facilities, etc.

What to do? Let’s ask Susan Kirsch who founded Livable California and recently Catalyts for Local Control.  Both of these organizations have been dedicated to finding sensible and sustainable housing solutions and opposing the Legislatures “Big Brother” approach to urban planning.

In an exclusive interview with the California Political News and Views Kirsch offered her unique perspective to solving the States ever increasing housing crisis:    

Is the current vision of the legislature to virtually eliminate the construction of new single family homes in California a practical policy?  

​No, it is not a practical policy to eliminate the construction of new single-family homes.  The majority of people entering their late 20’s and 30’s dream of living in a single-family home where they can raise their families on safe streets with good schools, and access to services.

Locally elected officials in touch with their constituents know that. For years, the local jurisdictions have created 8-year General Plans that account for multiple dimensions of community health.  But the state legislature seems intent on eliminating local control which stands in the way of developer/investor profits; what’s been called “the financialization of housing.”  Instead, legislators are moving unaccountable power into the hands of bureaucrats.  Local control has been the mainstay of democracy, but it gets in the way of the greedy side of capitalism. 

Is such a direction what the majority of middle class family’s desire? 

Most middle-class families desire a single-family home.  Homeownership with a 30-year, fixed-interest loan promotes stability for individual families and security for the community which can plan on property taxes to support schools, libraries, parks, etc.

How have recent laws passed by the Ca. including SB-9 helped or hurt construction of needed housing inventory in the state?

The CA laws have hurt the construction of needed inventory in the category of housing that is affordable to wage-earners–retail and service workers, seniors on fixed incomes, etc. Instead, builders are building moderate and high-end housing

And why?  Because that’s where they make a profit.   The laws passed by the CA legislator are not meeting the priority need.  SB9 for example, which allows for an owner to split a lot and build two units on each split portion, makes NO PROVISIONS for affordability.  Neighborhoods might see density quadruple, but that won’t increase the inventory of affordable housing.

It is well known the high cost of land,  permits, environmental expenses, insistence on PLA’s on government subsidized projects, and long delays in getting these approvals, have resulted in discouraging developers to building in California.  With this being the case, what would you recommend to break this log jam?

First, let’s restore balance to how we think about housing. Why is it, for example, that outsider developer/investors should get assurances that their projects “pencil out,” while the city and local taxpayers are left paying the bills?  Next, let’s require “nexus” studies to compare the long-term profit of builder/investors vs. the long-term expenses to the city for sewer lines, road repairs, safety services, etc.

Third, this log jam could be broken up if the state were to dedicate a portion of the $97B budget surplus to solving the problem.  Finally, my colleague Bob Silvestri, president of Community Venture Partners, has published an article called, “10 Things We Can Do Now To Promote Affordable Housing,” that should be “must-reading” for everyone concerned about breaking the log jam.

Thanks so much for your insight Susan.

When all is said and done with efforts of Legislature, various labor unions, developers, and other influential parties, an impasse has developed where very little is being built. Even If the guidelines of the legislature are followed, most families don’t desire to live in cramped quarters close by to mass transit facilities they may not wish to utilize very much.

Apparently the genius’s in Sacramento have not learned from the Covid-19 epidemic workers and their employers have found working from home suits both of their interests.  This demographic prefers to reside in single family homes, regardless to location, over proximity to big cities and their corporate headquarters.

Such a reality has been reinforced with declining ridership of BART up North and with the Southern California Rapid Transit District in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.   As part of this mix we aren’t even discussing the viability of Bullet Train which is a joke at best.

It would appear the so called Progressive one party system in California is lacking the needed voices to adjust their one size fits all template approach to urban planning.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

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