Bloomberg: California Needs a Housing Revolution
Living space is scarce, rents sky-high, and homelessness pervasive in the Golden State. It doesn’t have to stay that way.
The state is home to many of the nation’s least affordable metropolitan areas. A 2016 McKinsey report estimated that Californians pay $50 billion more for housing annually than they can afford and that the housing shortage costs more than $140 billion per year in lost economic output. Middle-class employees can’t afford to live near jobs, causing stressful commutes, wasted hours, and climate-altering emissions. Homelessness, in vehicles or on the streets, is pervasive.
Governor-elect Gavin Newsom promised to create 3.5 million new housing units by 2025, a sensible goal to fill a pressing need. State Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco may hold the key to helping the incoming governor fulfill his pledge.
Wiener previously introduced SB 827, a bold and controversial bill to overcome resistance to development by easing restrictions on housing density near transportation hubs. His bill died in committee in spring.
Now he’s back with an amended bill that adjusts some legislative provisions to blunt opposition while adding a compelling new one. The new bill, SB 50, would prevent localities from restricting higher-density housing within a half-mile of rail transit and within a quarter-mile of high-frequency bus lines. The new twist is this: The bill would similarly prevent restrictions near “job-rich” areas, including the gilded real-estate meccas of Silicon Valley.