Cal­i­for­nia’s hous­ing cri­sis de­mands ac­tion, and th­ese steps will help

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY JARED MARTIN Jared Martin is pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­for­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors, [email protected] He wrote this com­men­tary for CAL­mat­ters, a pub­lic in­ter­est jour­nal­ism ven­ture com­mit­ted to ex­plain­ing how Cal­i­for­nia's Capi­tol works and why it mat­ters.

The hous­ing cri­sis grip­ping the Golden State threat­ens to per­ma­nently stymie eco­nomic growth and de­mands bold and in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions.

Dur­ing his State of the State speech in Jan­uary, Gov. Gavin New­som boldly pro­claimed: “If we want a Cal­i­for­nia for all, we have to build hous­ing for all.”

The Cal­i­for­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors and its

more than 200,000 mem­bers, who ad­vo­cate on be­half of home buy­ers and sellers and are ded­i­cated to the preser­va­tion of pri­vate prop­erty rights, couldn’t agree more.

Cal­i­for­nia’s 4.2 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment rate is at a 10-year low. Wages are ac­cel­er­at­ing at their fastest pace in nearly a decade. But prospec­tive home buy­ers con­tinue to see sticker shock, with me­dian prices hov­er­ing in the $530,000 range.

The af­ford­abil­ity prob­lem must be ad­dressed and fast if Cal­i­for­nia is to re­main a place where mid­dle class peo­ple can live.

Gov. New­som’s call to ac­tion is bear­ing fruit. Law­mak­ers have ad­vanced bills de­signed to put a sig­nif­i­cant dent into the hous­ing cri­sis. The Cal­i­for­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors is cham­pi­oning the fol­low­ing bi­par­ti­san mea­sures:

Se­nate Bill 50, by Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Fran­cisco Demo­crat. It’s a bold plan to sig­nif­i­cantly boost hous­ing and apart­ment de­vel­op­ment in and around ma­jor tran­sit hubs and em­ploy­ers. The leg­is­la­tion pro­vides de­vel­op­ers with a den­sity bonus and other in­cen­tives or con­ces­sions. This bill may also ap­peal to mil­len­ni­als, who of­ten choose to live and work in dense, diverse ur­ban vil­lages where trans­porta­tion and ameni­ties are nearby.

Assem­bly Bill 1568, by Assem­bly Mem­ber Kevin McCarty, a Sacramento Demo­crat. It would hold lo­cal gov­ern­ments accountabl­e by with­hold­ing gas tax rev­enue if coun­ties do not meet home build­ing bench­marks ver­i­fied by the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment.

AB 1074 by Assem­bly­man Tyler Diep, an Orange County Repub­li­can, would al­low bonds to pro­vide loans to home­own­ers to con­struct ac­ces­sory dwelling units, which will help to ad­dress Cal­i­for­nia’s dire need for ad­di­tional sup­ply.

AB 1590 by As­sem­bly­woman Blanca Ru­bio, a Bald­win Park Demo­crat, would cre­ate a first-time home buyer’s tax credit.

SB 509, by Sen. An­thony Por­tantino, a Demo­crat from La Cañada Flin­tridge. It would es­tab­lish a hous­ing cri­sis aware­ness pro­gram through the is­suance of spe­cialty li­cense plates by the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles. The li­cense plate would gen­er­ate rev­enue for af­ford­able hous­ing pro­grams through­out the state.

What’s essential to all of th­ese ef­forts is a re­source to help fo­cus the state’s ef­forts to solve the hous­ing sup­ply cri­sis.

AB 1020, au­thored by As­sem­bly­woman Jac­qui Ir­win, a Thou­sand Oaks Demo­crat, would do just that by es­tab­lish­ing a cab­i­net-level sec­re­tary of hous­ing to over­see all hous­ing-re­lated ini­tia­tives and ac­tiv­i­ties through­out Cal­i­for­nia.

A new Hous­ing Agency would help to fo­cus the state’s ef­forts, while the Sec­re­tary of Hous­ing would pro­vide the gov­er­nor with a re­source to over­see and to in­ter­act with pro­fes­sional en­ti­ties, both gov­ern­men­tal and non-gov­ern­men­tal, that play a role in the hous­ing mar­ket.

Last fall, Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers wisely re­jected an ini­tia­tive to ex­pand of rent con­trol. The so­lu­tion to high rents is not more rent con­trol. It’s build­ing more sup­ply.

The Cal­i­for­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors will work with the gov­er­nor and leg­is­la­ture to en­sure that all Cal­i­for­ni­ans can realize the Amer­i­can Dream of home­own­er­ship.

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