This article was posted on Friday, Jun 14, 2024

Throughout California, concern about homelessness is routinely cited by local officials as the rationale for imposing repressions on private housing providers. But, IRL (In Real Life), they’re often not that anxious to allow construction of affordable housing in their district, or even in their city.

In southern California, the state is suing Huntington Beach, Anaheim and Fullerton regarding their refusal to approve additional housing.

A pro-housing group is suing the city of San Mateo, asserting that the city is trying to avoid sweeping rezones that would allow for more density around the city, which currently is primarily zoned for single-family residential. With maybe a cute little ADU tucked away discretely here and there.

State regulators also sent a warning letter to the city of Woodside, which tried to skirt a recent state housing law by declaring that their super-ritzy Silicon Valley city is actually a mountain lion sanctuary.

One of the latest is the East Bay city of Concord, who rejected in a 4-1 city council vote, a 183-unit development already approved by their planning department.

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Among the objections mentioned was that additional affordable housing should be constructed in different districts in the city.  However, no alternate locations were suggested.  Instead, the board indicated they would be open to approving the project at the current location if 163 of the units were market rate, with only 20 units being affordable.

The developer, Pacific West Communities, which develops around two dozen affordable projects in California each year, would qualify for up to $90 million in state tax-exempt bonds under the affordable housing plan, which would give it access to low-interest financing.

If the project isn’t affordable housing, it won’t qualify for the bonds, which would make financing problematic.  To quote Pacific West Executive John Nicolas; “There’s no guarantee we’d have a lender. They could be without any housing at all.”.

So, if it’s not a density issue or an infrastructure issue or a transportation issue or a funding issue, where does the reluctance come from? That was a rhetorical question.

Lower-cost, older rentals fell by 3.9 million units over the past decade, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies’ State of the Nation’s Housing report.

This decrease is a combination of reluctance on the part of local governments to allow more affordable housing creation while simultaneously over-regulating and repressing private housing providers. This increasing repression has resulted in many older, private rental units being sold and then demolished, as the current situation isn’t sustainable from either a personal or financial perspective.