Will 2017 Be the Year for Housing Solutions in Sacramento?

A who’s who of Bay Area housing leaders and major employers converged on the Bay Area Council Thursday for an unvarnished and sobering discussion with Assemblymember David Chiu about the policies and politics that will determine whether our region and the state can make progress in 2017 on addressing California’s massive housing affordability crisis. The discussion was framed by startling data from recent reports by McKinsey & Co. and the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that outlined the scope, severity and complexity of the problem. According to the McKinsey study, California ranks 49out of 50 in housing units per capita, a shortage that translates into 50 percent of households statewide that can’t afford housing in their local market. The BACEI study—a first-of-its-kind analysis— showed how different policy levers effect housing supply and affordability. In addition, Council Housing Committee Co-Chair Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners described how a raft of state and local housing regulations make building the kind of affordable workforce housing the state desperately needs financially unviable.

Chiu, Chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, said solutions won’t be easy to come by in the Legislature as powerful political interests remain opposed to the kind of regulatory streamlining that can have the biggest impact on increasing supply across all housing types and putting downward pressure on housing prices and rents. Legislation introduced this week by newly elected state Sen. Scott Weiner, who formerly served with Chiu on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, that includes streamlining housing approvals will certainly test the mood in the Legislature to take meaningful action to address California’s housing crisis. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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