Lawmakers Eye Solutions to State’s Housing Crisis

California’s housing crisis continues to swell. The median cost of a home in the Golden State is now $500,000 -- twice the national average -- with demand continuing to outpace supply. Between 2003 and 2014, the state built just 47 percent of the housing it needed to keep up.

We could talk about the problem until we’re blue in the face. The question is, what does the State Legislature plan to do to address it? That’s the subject of a CalMatters column this week by Dan Walters.

When the Legislature reconvenes in August, it will face dozens of bills that purport to relieve the housing crisis, but four major approaches:

—Senate Bill 2, which would impose a $75 per document fee on real estate transactions, with a $225 ceiling, and raise about $250 million a year for low- and moderate-income housing;

—Senate Bill 3, which would place a $3 billion housing bond issue on the 2018 ballot;

—Senate Bill 35, or some variation, which would force cities to meet their state-imposed housing quotas by diluting, or eliminating, local land use powers; and

–Perhaps a bigger chunk of the money that the state hopes to generate via its quarterly auctions of carbon emission allowances under the newly reauthorized cap-and-trade program.

Some approaches are easier and more effective than others, but all can be politically tricky. The temptation is there to settle for what Walters dubs a “token” solution to the problem. That would be a major disappointment for the state.

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.

Read the entire column here


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