Written by Nicholas Vetrisek
Affordable housing has long been the mantra for Democratic politicians looking for votes. They will point endlessly to insert luxury housing units or office buildings as if California housing is a zero sum game, while conveniently sidestepping the true cause of the housing shortage: their own bureaucratic ineptitude.
One of the best examples of government failing to solve the housing crisis is when Governor Gavin Newsom attempted to fix the problem. He claimed that during his administration, over 500,000 new homes would be built each year, more than had ever been built in any year in California history. The actual result of which has been fewer houses built in both years of Newsom’s tenure than even the amount built under former Governor Jerry Brown, when there was already a major shortage.
Newsom’s failure illustrates the ultimate cause behind the housing shortage: government acting where it doesn’t belong. Every attempt by the government to make housing more affordable, whether it’s rent control or mandating that cities create affordable housing has resulted in failure. Yet, Democrats persist in their unsuccessful endeavors.
Unfortunately, policy seems to be moving further in this direction. There are eight new Assembly housing bills being considered and every single one of them is a perfect encapsulation of government in the sense that they say a lot but mean nothing. They are as follows:
AB 1484: Provides a comprehensive reform of the nexus standards that cities and counties use to determine their fees.
AB 1924: Requires jurisdictions to assess fees on a per-square-foot basis, giving developers the option to build smaller, more affordable units without being penalized with multiple fees.
AB 3144: Provides state funding to reimburse local governments who waive impact fees on affordable projects.
AB 3145: Establishes a ceiling for development fees based on the median home price in a jurisdiction. Cities and counties that exceed this ceiling will be required to seek approval from the Department of Housing and Community Development, and justify the need to do so.
AB 3146: Requires cities and counties to report a wide variety of essential housing data to the Department of Housing and Community Development, including the number of new housing units that have been issued a completed entitlement, a building permit, or a certificate of occupancy.
AB 3147: Ensures that certain impact fees are payable under protest. This allows for a developer to pay a fee they consider to be unreasonably high so they can continue construction.
AB 3148: Reduces the impact fees paid on affordable housing units that are built using the state’s density bonus program.
AB 3149: Modernizes the way that local agencies notify interested parties prior to levying a new fee or service charge or prior to approving an increase in an existing fee or service charge.
These bills are all distractions from what will actually fix the issue. The only way the state would really be able to solve the crisis is through reduced regulation and additional incentives. Stunningly, when developers are allowed to build houses, they tend to build houses.
Democrats need to understand that the world still turns without them and that the best thing they can do is to simply make themselves less of a nuisance.