California’s soaring housing costs are the primary reason the state’s poverty rate (23 percent) is the highest in the nation and why the state has among the lowest home ownership rates nationally (54 percent), according to a damning report the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released Tuesday (March 19). The report squarely blames CEQA, NIMBYs and onerous government fees and regulation for squelching new housing construction over the past 30 years that could have boosted supply and helped keep prices more affordable. The problem is particularly acute in coastal areas, including the Bay Area. Since 1980, the number of housing units produced in California’s coastal regions has increased by 32 percent, far less than the 54 percent in other metropolitan areas nationally. Home building was even slower (20 percent) in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Increasing our housing supply is among the Bay Area Council’s lead policy priorities, including winning badly needed and long-overdue reforms to CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act. The housing shortage and astronomical prices take the heaviest toll on lower-income residents, subjecting them to overcrowding, longer commutes and reduced economic opportunities, the report said. They also make recruiting the talent that California needs to sustain its economic growth extremely difficult. Legislation recently introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins proposes new funding sources for affordable housing, but many experts say it represents just a drop in the bucket. The Council is preparing a response to the report that will be delivered to Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislative leaders and calls for the adoption of recommendations made by the LAO. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Read the full report: California’s High Housing Costs, Causes and Consequences>>

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