August 20, 2019 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Opinion: Can Newsom Housing Campaign Succeed?

By Thomas Elias

It turns out Gov. Gavin Newsom was deadly serious when he insisted as a candidate last year that California needs to build 3.5 million new housing units over the next ten years in order to solve its affordable housing crisis. That’s a total of 3.5 million, more than double what builders around the state have put up in any of the last few decades.

Newsome resent that message a few weeks into his new job, when he successfully urged Attorney General Xavier Becerra to sue the Orange County city of Huntington Beach for allegedly failing to allow enough new housing to handle its population growth.

With about 202,000 residents, the median home value in “Surf City” tops $830,000, according to the website Zillow.com. Typical one-bedroom apartments there rent for between $1,500 and $2,700 per month. For those rents to eat up less than 30 percent of a tenant’s income, the renter must earn more than $60,000 per year, making many tenants “rent-burdened” by federal standards.

The state lawsuit charges Huntington Beach has for years ignored a state law requiring cities to zone land for new housing construction. Meanwhile, many city residents feel Huntington Beach is growing too fast.

So the Newsom/Becerra lawsuit is likely just the first salvo in a state vs. local conflict over the governor’s preferred way of solving the housing problem.

But even if cities like Huntington Beach can be forced to allow the millions of “affordable” units Newsom and some activist state legislators want, it’s highly questionable they can solve the most visible part of California’s housing crunch – homelessness.

Yes, cities have built thousands of transitional housing units (generally small apartments) for formerly homeless persons, who pay low, federally subsidized rent. But that hasn’t reduced homelessness.

“Every time we build new units and move people in, at least the same number of homeless people move into whatever cities do the building,” said the city manager of a city of more than 100,000, who previously was the top administrator of two other cities. “With our climate and our policies, we are attracting homeless people from all over America.”

Then there’s the question of affordability. Anyone who’s visited a homeless shelter like those in gymnasiums and National Guard armories on cold winter nights will know that not many of their occupants could afford even low rent.

So while affordable housing in most cities is set up to remain relatively low-priced a long as it stands, well below market rates, the rents or costs to buy are still above what most homeless folks can pay. Especially the large component of the homeless who are mentally ill, but not institutionalized, largely because of policies that began almost 50 years ago, when then-Gov. Ronald Reagan spurred the shutdown of several public mental hospitals, intending to replace them with community-based housing.

Such housing never materialized in significant quantities, and mentally ill homeless became a California staple.

Meanwhile, rents on affordable apartments generally run about 30 percent of the median income in any region. Under those terms, an affordable unit in the Los Angeles region would rent for about $1,350 per month, more in the San Francisco Bay area.

Not exactly affordable if you’re unemployed, mentally ill and living on the streets.

So it’s naïve to believe affordable housing or the governor’s new initiative can solve the homeless problem.

And there’s still the problem of housing being too expensive for even middle-class workers to buy. So the percentage of renters in California continues to rise, meaning that ever fewer residents feel rooted in the state, with a stake in its future.

All this makes some wonder if it’s sensible to invest heavily in affordable housing. In 2017, the average affordable unit in the state cost $425,000 to build if it was part of a project of 100 units or more. The cost was higher when fewer units were involved.

This picture leaves many questions to be answered before the state goes full blast on a government-funded or government-mandated home building spree. But don’t expect anything to dampen Newsom’s deeply felt drive to solve the housing issue, and quickly.

Email Thomas Elias at [email protected] His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visitwww.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

LAPD Apprehends Bio-Hazard Waste Dumping RV Dwellers

October 12, 2010

October 12, 2010

Earlier today the LAPD Pacific Division apprehended the bio-hazard waste dumping RV dwellers that had remained at large with a...

NPR: At Venice Beach, Rich, Poor And Middle Class Coexist

July 13, 2014

July 13, 2014

A new radio piece from NPR’s “All Things Considered” released today discusses the benefits to economic mobility of living in...

Water Main Breaks (Again) on Carrol Canal

July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014

Nick Antonicello just sent in this photo from the scene where a water main broke last night on the 200...

Lightning Strike Causes Injuries, 1 Death

July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014

We were exiting the 10 Freeway at Lincoln when we heard a MASSIVE thunderclap, which apparently caused a number of...

Mirror Media Group acquires Yo! Venice!

July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014

Mirror Media Group, the Westside’s largest local media company, has acquired yovenicenew.wpengine.com. Yo! Venice! website founder Bret Haller, 45, died...

LAPD Pacific Division warns of increase in burglaries during summer

August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

The Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Division has issued a number of Summertime Burglary Prevention Tips, saying “burglars don’t stop...

Former Maker Studios Co-Founder Raises $25 Million for Venice’s Zealot

August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014

The ousted former CEO and co-founder of Maker Studios has reportedly raised $25 million to launch Zealot Networks, a digital...

Venice Neighborhood Council Meetings This Week

August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014

This first full week of August features four meetings for the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC). VNC’s Housing Committee meets Aug....

VNC Planning Committee to discuss Housing Audit Bill

August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) could be deciding Tuesday, Aug. 5 whether to support a bill in Sacramento to audit...

New app touted as AMBER alert for cardiac arrest victims

August 6, 2014

August 6, 2014

A mobile app that allows users to render immediate aid to cardiac arrest victims in their vicinity will be launched...

Los Angeles Arts Sustainability Tour comes to Venice

August 6, 2014

August 6, 2014

The Los Angeles Arts Sustainability Tour (LAAST), an informative and fun neighborhood event, will take place on Sat., Aug. 9...

County Looks at Marketing Firm for Obesity Program

August 6, 2014

August 6, 2014

A local marketing firm just a few blocks east of Venice could be helping County officials to do a media...

Los Angeles to Combat Illegal Vending on Venice Boardwalk

August 7, 2014

August 7, 2014

Los Angeles will crackdown on what it describes as “illegal vending” on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, as the City Council unanimously...

Ralph Terrazas named Los Angeles Fire Department Chief

August 8, 2014

August 8, 2014

Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Ralph Terrazas won the unanimous support of the City Council today to become the...

Venice councilman seconds motion for “Czar” to coordinate homeless services

August 9, 2014

August 9, 2014

A Los Angeles city councilman said on Friday a “czar” should be brought in to coordinate services for the homeless...