“A couple months ago, California legislators shut down an attempt to make housing more affordable in the state. Now they’re moving forward with an alternative measure, but there’s a major problem — it probably won’t do anything.
California suffers from a severe shortage of affordable housing. The state ranks 49th in the nation in housing density, a measure of housing units per person. That lack of supply has real consequences — according to Zillow, the median home price in California is more than double the national average. Renters have suffered too, as at least 30 percent of residents in every single metropolitan area (comprising 98 percent of the state population) cannot afford local rents. That number is closer to 60 percent in some areas.
That situation isn’t sustainable, but each reform effort has met with significant opposition. The most high-profile of these reform efforts came when State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, proposed SB 827, which would have required meaningful upzoning near transit hubs.
SB 827 would have alleviated two statewide issues at once by making housing more affordable and reducing traffic congestion by encouraging the use of public transit. But a coalition of progressives who feared gentrification and developer profits, conservatives who disliked state pre-emption of local zoning policy, and “NIMBYs” concerned with “neighborhood character” brought down the legislation.
Wiener also proposed a companion piece of legislation, SB 828. SB 828 would require localities to zone for 125 percent of housing needs, as opposed to the current 100 percent. If that seems excessive, consider that states currently come nowhere near meeting that 100 percent requirement — just two of 529 cities and counties met housing goals at all four income quadrants between 2007 and 2014. SB 828 would also increase state audits and enforcement of local efforts to meet these goals.”