Blame slow-growth policies for California’s housing and homeless crises


By Steven Greenhut & Wayne Winegarden

The roots of California’s housing problems aren’t hard to trace given the reams of house-price and population data going back decades. The Los Angeles Times reported the median price of a California home in 1970 was only 5 percent higher than the national average at $24,300. That year’s nationwide median price was $23,400, which translates to a low $181,000 in 2023 after adjusting for inflation.

So what happened? It’s basic supply and demand. Government policies since the 1970s artificially constrained housing supply through slow-growth rules, urban-growth boundaries, an increase in developer fees, environmental laws (such as the California Environmental Quality Act) and regulatory edicts including inclusionary zoning – i.e., requiring builders to set aside a percentage of under-market units. As population grew, these restrictions constrained the ability of builders to keep up with demand.

California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office points to 1970 as a pivotal year, noting that housing in the following decade soared from somewhat above the national average to 80 percent above it. Something changed in that period. The LAO’s 2015 report concluded that California was underbuilding housing by about 110,000 units a year, especially along the coast – a supply problem that has only worsened.

Click to read the full article in the Orange County Register.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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