Saturday, June 1, 2019

Maximum occupancy

California political will recently spoke with the current demise of proposed Senate Bill (SB) 50.  As reported in a Sacramento Bee, my local newspaper, article last month - California cities killed a sweeping housing reform bill. Can Gavin Newsom find another option? - SB 50's density-rich solutions would have aggressively dealt with zoning restrictions that impact housing affordability by forcing local governments to authorize taller office buildings and multi-family housing in areas where they're currently not permitted. 

This political will of local governments is a bigger example of not in my backyard (NIMBY) mentality, heretofore known as not in my city.

Governor Newsom's ambitious $1.75 billion proposal of building 3.5 million new homes by 2025 and a host of other legislative solutions on the drawing board, will create a hard-to-imagine gargantuan California in the not-to-distant future.  California already has a bursting-at-the-seams population of about 40 million residents.

According to one source, California has an average household size of 2.94 so the additional 3.5 million housing units Governor Newsom wants built would swell California's population by an additional 10 million residents.  Imagine a California in six years, with a population of over 50 million.

Did you notice the traffic on the way to work this morning?  Imagine it being 25 percent more congested. 

When will our elected officials realize that perhaps the way to deal with the unaffordable housing crisis is to let the housing market do its thing?  Supply and demand are powerful forces that have an amazing ability to create correct economic solutions. 

Lack of housing affordability, if not tampered with by government-orchestrated manipulation, will ultimately decrease housing demand.  People will relocate to other states where housing is more affordable.  There's nothing inferior about this market solution. 

And, a decrease in housing demand will improve affordability for those choosing to remain because demand will more closely align with supply.  Maybe, even, housing supply will eventually exceed demand.  Know what impact that'll have on housing affordability?

Concurrent with the unaffordable housing crisis is political chatter about how to solve California's traffic problem.  Some advocate government-orchestrated solutions such as additional investment in public transportation, or the next new form of taxation masqueraded with a clever name of traffic-congested pricing charged to drivers of vehicles roaming around congested areas. 

Do we need new government solutions like another high-speed light rail boondoggle to nowhere?

What about our California environment and its air quality?  How will another 10 million Californians affect California's ability to protect our environment? 

Have you ever walked into a restaurant or other establishment and notice a sign that reads something like "Maximum occupancy permitted by law of [insert your number]" Maybe this is what we need in California, a maximum population number known to our elected leaders so they don't go about mindlessly with proposed legislation  as if the sky is the limit with California's future population.

When was the last time our elected officials asked us the population we want for California?  I haven't been asked if I want a California of 50 million residents, have you?  What do you want?

Maybe our California is at maximum occupancy.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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