Steve’s Position On Making Housing Affordable
As a real estate professional in the Greater Los Angeles area for the past 20 years, I have dealt with housing affordability first hand. The primary issue is supply and demand – Los Angeles County has the largest population in the nation (demand) and there is very little buildable land left (supply). Thus, the cost of existing rental and for sale housing continues to increase. If elected, I will advocate for legislation that incentivizes developers and landlords to increase the amount of affordable rental and for sale housing units included in new and existing developments.
According to M. Nolan Gray, Professional City Planner at the University of California at Los Angeles, California lags in replacing older housing compared to other cities throughout the country. Cities in California approve housing permits at a rate similar to a city such as Baltimore, which is actually experiencing a population decrease. The existing housing stock was not intended to last 60, 80 or 100 years and is low quality, with an increased risk of fire, lead poisoning and mold exposure.
There are not a lot of new housing units being built and the reason for this is simple: building in California isn’t just expensive, it’s designed to incentivize building high-cost luxury housing over affordable housing. California has one of the longest entitlement processes in the country, with most projects taking as long as 24 months. This timeline creates massive holding costs for builders and, when combined with fees, labor laws, and environmental review challenges, typical projects get delayed for years. This creates a perverse system where the only housing worth building is the most expensive kind, which in turn drives up rents across the board. The solution is obvious: we must build more housing, of all types, in all neighborhoods, in a smart and community-appropriate way.
I am not in favor for creating more density in places that cannot support it, but I do support more density and height in corridors where it is appropriate. I will advocate for legislation that enables the use of the Federal government’s borrowing power to purchase and carry land costs for affordable housing projects. And, I will also advocate for the creation of legislation that waives or eliminates all fees for projects that agree to sensible affordability ratios for unit counts and implement covenants that restrict rental rates for a significant amount of years.