In some ways, it was one of the worst years for housing in the Golden State.
The median home price in California over the summer turned off $800,000 for the first time, a worrying record for the state. The prices are probable moderate in the short term – not in any real sense, but because higher interest rates will lower costs for prospective homebuyers. The situation for tenants was similar bald, with rents soaring across the state. Is it any wonder that the state continues shrink?
The California housing crisis is the inevitable result of a worsening housing crisis. According to a recent to learn, our state is facing a deficit of nearly a million units, and it’s a shortage that’s growing every year. This shortage, in turn, is the result of a thicket of local regulations that make housing prohibitively difficult. From restrictive zoning too sluggish to allowCalifornia is one of the most difficult places to build in the country, especially when it comes to housing infill.
But in another sense, there’s never been a better year for California housing.
In the past month, Sacramento has passed a series of YIMBY-supported bills that will soon make it easier to build homes across California. Virtually every regulatory barrier standing in the way of new development — from zoning to permitting to environmental assessment — will soon be at least a little less onerous, thanks to the intervention of a diverse coalition of interests committed to state growth.
For example, FROM 2011 loosens restrictive local zoning regulations and allows the construction of new apartment buildings in commercial areas. Individually estimate, the bill legalized up to 2.4 million new marketable units — including up to 400,000 income-restricted units — in locations currently home to derelict malls and empty office parks. The bill requires certain units to be priced below market and includes strong labor protections.
Other bills echo California’s notoriously difficult permitting process. First legalized in 2016, Accessory Living Units (ADUs) are small, additional rental units that sit in unused garages, garden sheds, attics and basements. Depending on the state Dataaround 60,000 ADUs were made permitted over the past five years. AB2221 builds on existing statewide protections, further simplifying and streamlining the ADU permitting process and making them cheaper and easier for homeowners to build. AB2234 will also speed up the permitting process for all projects.
Another bill reins in onerous environmental assessment mandates. SB886 would exempt on-campus housing from unnecessary CEQA reviews and expedite the process of building new units for students, faculty, and staff. It also reduces the risk of unnecessary CEQA litigation it is often accustomed to delay or reduce Residential projects on campus. With one in 20 students in the UC system and one in 10 students in the CSU system struggling with homelessness, this reform could not come too soon.
These bills represent the pinnacle of the iceberg one of the most productive housing and land-use reforms in recent California history. But the work is far from finished: our condition is still permits Housing construction is about one-third the per capita rate of large benchmark states like Texas and Florida and is still one of the most restrictive developments by most standards regulations in the country.
Half a century of bad policies cannot be undone overnight. Local zoning will still get in the way of things like townhouses and Bungalow pitches. Approval deadlines will still remain too slow and unpredictable for many projects. Careless environmental lawsuits will continue to throw a spanner in the works. And you can count on NIMBY’s policies to make guns like guns historical preservation to block new housing. Unfortunately, land use policy reform is very much like a game hit-a-mole.
But if the 2022 legislative session is any indication — if state and local policymakers redouble that reform energy — California’s housing crisis could soon be a thing of the past.
Nolan Gray is research director for California YIMBY and professional urban planner.