As Housing Crisis Grinds On, Grim News on New Applications

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No one ever said solving our housing crisis was going to be easy, and new data out from the U.S. Census Bureau provided ample evidence that California and the Bay Area need to redouble our efforts. An analysis of the data by the Public Policy Institute of California found that applications for new residential construction tumbled 16 percent from last year. The numbers were even worse in the Bay Area, where new permits for single-family homes and apartments plummeted by 50 percent in San Mateo County, 30 percent in Alameda County and almost 10 percent in Santa Clara County. Steve Levy of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy and a member of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute Board of Advisors told the Mercury News that rising costs and uncertainty about housing reforms are factors in discouraging investors from jumping into new projects.

While the overall trend was negative, some counties have seen a jump in permits. New permit applications increased 66 percent in San Francisco and 47 percent in Sonoma County. Permits also continue to rise for accessory dwelling units, aka granny or in-law units, since legislation the Bay Area Council sponsored in 2016 passed easing fees and regulatory barriers.

Addressing the region’s housing crisis is the focus of a Town Hall discussion airing and live-streaming on ABC7/KGO today from 4-7 p.m. with Council CEO Jim Wunderman serving as one of the speakers.

To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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