We’ve learned a few things about housing in 2018, and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves to make real progress in 2019. Last January, the California Legislature rejected more onerous rent control as the solution to the housing crisis. Voters did the same, overwhelmingly rejecting Prop. 10 on November 6 after a wasteful, nasty $100 million campaign that only diverted time and resources better spent on housing. As the Legislature and a new governor prepare for 2019, we need to stop having the same old fights and focus on solutions that are viable and that we know will work.
The California Department of Housing has long estimated we need 180,000 new units of housing annually by 2025 to meet projected growth, over 100,000 more units than we are currently building each year. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom’s platform called for creating 3.5 million new homes by 2025. And a damning new California Air Resources Board report confirmed what the Bay Area Council has been saying for years, that without more housing near transit the state won’t meet its aggressive climate change goals. Our system of housing creation requires the public and private sectors to work together, especially for building low-income and affordable housing.
We need to build a lot of new homes, fast. And we need to focus on legislative fixes because the ballot box too often produces poorly crafted outcomes through a campaign process so toxic it ends up demonizing the people who actually provide housing.
Ballot box-legislating has its place, but Prop. 10 amounted to a monumental waste of money, resources, and goodwill. We also need to push back against those vilifying the companies and organizations that are part of the solution. One of San Francisco’s strongest corporate citizens, Veritas Investments, was subjected to a fear-mongering campaign that even ginned up a lawsuit aimed at vote-getting — despite the fact the company has an exemplary track record of resolving tenant complaints and building affordable, rent-controlled ADU housing in San Francisco.