Welcome to the April 26, 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.
The legislative session in Sacramento is in full swing, and within the last week, we had three of our sponsored bills pass through their respective Committees:
- AB 976 (Ting): Passed Assembly Local Government and will now head to the Assembly Floor
- AB 1633 (Ting): Passed Assembly Housing Committee and Assembly Natural Resources
- SB 684 (Caballero): Passed Senate Governance & Finance and Senate Housing Committee
In addition, another bill on our priority list, SB 450 (Atkins), which offers updates and improvements on SB 9 (duplexes), has passed the Senate Housing Committee and has been referred to Senate Governance & Finance. This week, SB 423 (Wiener) will be heard in Senate Governance and Finance.
April 28, 2023 is the last day for policy committees to hear and report fiscal bills introduced in their respective chambers to fiscal committees.
To stay current on what housing bills California YIMBY is sponsoring, supporting, and watching, you can now use our Abstract link to track with us.
We will have more housing legislation news in the coming weeks as bills are refined, amended, and scheduled for committee hearings. To stay up to date on committee action, and to receive alerts for bills and other legislative activities, join our Rapid Response team.
Playing With Fire: How Restrictive Zoning Exacerbates Climate Risk
Over the past century, the bulk of California’s housing has been built on the suburban periphery. In recent years, much of this growth has taken place in parts of the state prone to regular fires and floods, putting many California families at risk. This growth pattern is not an accident, but the intended outcome of land-use regulations that make it all but impossible to build in existing urban areas, driving up housing costs in cities and forcing nearly all new housing out into what’s known as the “wildland-urban interface,” or WUI.
A new job market paper by UCLA economics Ph.D. candidate Augusto Ospital attempts to quantify the impact of restrictive land-use regulations on housing prices and exposure to fire risk in San Diego using a sophisticated quantitative model. Ospital finds that land-use regulations in San Diego significantly increase rents and help to explain why many San Diego households have been forced to move to at-risk areas.
- By blocking new housing, restrictive land-use regulations raise city-level rents in San Diego by an average of 28 percent.
- By blocking infill housing in particular, restrictive land-use regulations explain 7 percent of San Diego residents living in fire-prone areas.
- Absent land-use liberalization to allow more infill housing, mounting fire risk will affect nearly twice as many San Diego households in the years to come.
- Policymakers should remove regulatory barriers to infill housing to ensure that no Californian is forced to live in an area vulnerable to severe climate risks, like wildfires.
Time to Re-Open Those Golden Gates?
Rents and home prices have skyrocketed across the U.S., spreading housing affordability challenges that once seemed to be contained to the coasts. But in places that allow housing growth, multifamily construction also continues to boom, such that prices could soon start to fall—except in California, where major cities and suburbs continue to permit far less housing construction than their peers in other states.
In a new report for Apartment List, researchers Chris Salviati and Rob Warnock dive into the US Census Bureau’s Building Permit Survey data to better understand the scale, form, and geography of housing production.
- Nationwide, the US is building multifamily housing at rates not seen since the construction boom years of the early 1980s.
- Booming Sun Belt metropolitan areas like Austin, Raleigh, and Jacksonville continue to lead the pack on overall housing production, building between 9.6 and 5.3 new apartments for every 1,000 residents in 2022 alone.
- Major California metropolitan areas come in at the bottom, with Los Angeles and San Francisco permitting at a rate of 1.7 new apartments for every 1,000 residents in 2022—rates comparable to struggling Rust Belt cities.
- Yes in Our Backyards | Mother Jones
- Editorial: California cities want to stop fast-tracking affordable housing construction. Bad idea | LA Times
- Editorial: If California cities want homeless funding, they better stop blocking housing | LA Times
- Think Globally, Build Like Hell Locally | Mother Jones
- During Covid, bus and subway ridership dropped. Now transit systems are in crisis | Vox
- Climate Change Is Destabilizing Insurance Industry | Scientific American
- New Pathways to Encourage Housing Production | Terner Center
- The 100-Year-Old Reason U.S. Housing Is So Expensive | The New York Times
- The Democratic Senator Who Says Liberals Have Lost Their Way on Housing | Slate
- Where did the workers go? Construction jobs are plentiful, but workers are scarce | NPR
- A Fork in the Road: States Will Determine the Future of US Transportation Pollution | RMI
- The Green Movement’s Best Weapon Has Become a Problem | Mother Jones
- Housing developments could be delayed amid insurance struggles | OC Register
Watch our new video about how successful efforts to end the housing shortage and affordability crisis will also create thousands of good-paying jobs for construction workers!
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