According to a groundbreaking report today from the Terner Center, California has made significant strides in addressing its ongoing housing crisis through the enactment of a series of housing laws aimed at increasing the production of new housing units. The legislation has helped boost the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and subsidized affordable housing, leading to a cultural shift towards a more pro-housing approach in some cities. Changes in the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) and Housing Element law are anticipated to have a powerful impact on future housing development by unlocking more land for residential construction and compelling cities to address barriers to housing development.
“We are encouraged by the Terner Center’s recent report, \which illustrates the powerful progress achieved in California’s housing policy, thanks in part to the dedicated advocacy of Abundant Housing LA and our partners. However, we recognize that there is still much work ahead to address the ongoing housing crisis,” said Leonora Camner, Executive Director, Abundant Housing LA. “We remain committed to advising on and advocating for legislation that fosters equitable housing opportunities for all Californians and breaks down barriers to development. As we go forward, we urge policymakers and stakeholders to join us in addressing the underlying cost drivers and providing the necessary financial incentives to create a more abundant and affordable housing landscape in our state.”
Despite the progress, several challenges persist in the effective implementation of these housing laws. Many localities struggle with a lack of personnel capacity and technical expertise, limiting their ability to enact the policy changes effectively. Moreover, concerns about the long-term sustainability of aggressive enforcement of these housing laws have been raised, as political circumstances and priorities may change over time. This could lead to a retreat in enforcement efforts, allowing local governments to stray from a pro-housing posture.
Addressing the housing crisis in California requires more than just permissive land use laws. High development costs, including labor, materials, development impact fees, and stringent building code requirements, continue to hinder housing development in even the most permissive jurisdictions. Tackling these underlying cost drivers and providing aggressive financial incentives for market-rate housing, as well as increased funding for affordable housing, will be crucial in boosting housing production and making strides towards solving the state’s housing crisis.