The Homework Newsletter

The HomeWork: December 22, 2023

December 22, 2023

Welcome to the December 22, 2023 Main edition of The Homework, the official newsletter of California YIMBY — legislative updates, news clips, housing research and analysis, and the latest writings from the California YIMBY team.

News from Sacramento

It’s still sleepy in Sacramento, but not for long. The Legislature reconvenes January 3rd, 2024, and for those tracking two-year bills, January 19th, 2024, is the deadline for those bills to be heard by committees and reported to the Floor.

Still no news on the complete list of committee assignments on the Assembly side – stay tuned for updates after the holiday. And remember: The best gift you can give your friends and family is your love and affection; the second best gift is, a free subscription to The Homework (and tell them to follow the California YIMBY Twitter channel, @cayimby, to stay current on housing policy research, news, and legislative updates). 

We wish everyone a restful and relaxing holiday and wish you a Happy New Year … filled with housing abundance.

Housing Research & Analysis

The Oil Spill Backlash and High Housing Prices

Following a catastrophic oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, in 1972, California voters passed Proposition 20, the “Save Our Coast” ballot initiative. The initiative rode a wave of voter anger over the horrific damage done by offshore oil development. It led to the creation of the California Coastal Commission (CCC), tasked with protecting and preserving the coast and its sensitive ecosystems for future generations of Californians, while maintaining public access to the beaches, bluffs, forests, and cliffs that define the coastline. 

Included in that original mandate for the CCC was regulatory authority over not just the waters 3 miles out into the ocean, but also, all of the lands along the coast of California, from one thousand yards to as far as five miles inland. This is known as the “Coastal Zone” (CZ), and includes vast swaths of existing urban lands in coastal cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara (San Francisco has its own coastal conservation authority). This authority to regulate land use near the coast created a unique opportunity to study the effects of the CCC’s impact on coastal housing markets, which Matthew E. Kahn, Ryan Vaughn, and Jonathan Zasloff undertake in their paper “The housing market effects of discrete land use regulations: Evidence from the California coastal boundary zone.

How a Boom in Market-Rate Housing Would Help Section 8 Tenants

The United States largely abandoned building new public (i.e., publicly-owned and operated) housing in the 1970s, replacing it with the Housing Choice Voucher program to provide low-income families with federally-funded rent subsidies for use in privately-owned buildings.

Colloquially known as “Section 8,” after the law that created it, the program works like this: tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) pay 30% of their income in rent, which is considered the threshold for affordability. The federal government then provides a voucher – a direct payment to the landlord – that covers the difference between the tenant’s payment and the market rate rent.In The Effect of Relaxing Local Housing Market Regulations on Federal Rental Assistance Programs, Kevin Corinth and Amelia Irvine look into the potential effects of zoning reform on the Housing Choice Voucher program, concluding that ten years of 90th-percentile housing production in Los Angeles would significantly lower market rate rents, which would allow many more families to access HCVs with the same budget.

Abundance Podcast: An Interview with Danielle Allen

In Episode 15 of Abundance, California YIMBY research director Nolan Gray and policy director Ned Resnikoff sit down with Danielle Allen to discuss power-sharing liberalism, abundance progressivism, and what it all means for the future of urban governance. Allen is a professor of political philosophy, ethics, and public policy at Harvard University, and director of the Allen Lab for Democracy Renovation. She is also the author of the recent book, Justice By Means of Democracy.

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