Governor Newsom’s Broken Promise on Housing Development

Written by Josh Imes

With one year in the books, Governor Gavin Newsom has already stuck his foot in his mouth, and his fellow Democrats have helped him along the way. Their laughable hypocrisy is beginning to rear its ugly head in their attempts to create policy.

In his inaugural address promise to the people of California that he would accomplish a “big hairy, audacious goal,” one of his biggest challenges is the housing shortage in the state. Newsom pledged to have 3.5 million units built by 2025. That being said, over the next seven years, 500,000 housing structures would need to be built per year.

That being the case, 2019 was not a good start for this “big hairy” goal of his, considering that it ended with only 110,218 houses being constructed. Oops. Additionally, the Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB) pointed out that housing construction was down seven percent from 2018.

There’s nowhere to go but up from here, right? I mean, considering that the number is barely even a fifth of Newsom’s goal, and barely half of the official state goal of 180,000 per year, California’s shortage is only worsening. Newsom has since backtracked on his pledge, stating that 3.5 million is more of a “stretch goal.” However, the research his campaign used to get this number has since been discredited since the research firm based its research on the notion that all of California’s housing market was comparable to that of New York City.

Coming in support of Newsom, Senator Wiener proposed SB 50, which would allow for easier to obtain housing permits for certain types of housing by overriding local zoning laws. However, his unsuccessful attempt at moving the bill is mainly due to his fellow Democrats from Los Angeles County and Newsoms’ unwillingness to mediate. What a way to make friends, Gavin.

While SB 50 is needed to bypass local opposition to multi-family construction, middle to low-income families in urban centers, and welcome developers and investors to jump-start production, championing the unrealistic goal of 3.5 million homes is essentially political suicide for this bill. With the housing market declining last year and the multi-family housing also decreasing by 11 percent, it seems to me like trying for a more realistic number might be more beneficial.

A number closer to one million is much more doable and is also backed by CIRB research. While the numbers Newsom and Wiener are touting are unrealistic, it seems that Democrats want to get in their own way and stop actual progress that could help middle and low-income families struggling to live in California.


Photo by Timothy Hurst via Flickr