October 19, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Link Housing Fix To Hsr, Solve Two Big Problems

By Tom Elias, Yo! Venice Columnist

So SB 50 is dead, most likely at least for the rest of this election year. How does California now solve its housing problems without that most ambitious of proposed tactics for doing the job?

Maybe it’s time for Gov. Gavin Newsom and the labor unions who strongly back him and his policies to revert to a plan he talked up while running for governor back in May 2018: Link a necessarily complex housing fix to the ever-troubled bullet train project.

One perpetual California problem could help solve another.

Newsom strongly suggested this during a campaign interview, saying housing projects could be made to dovetail with the bedeviled bullet train project, now abuilding in the Central Valley and nowhere else.

Doing this would be completely consistent with Newsom’s holistic approach to government, perpetually insisting it’s best to try to tie things together.

It would also follow logically from Newsom’s late-January admission that the single goal he touted loudest during that 2018 campaign – a demand to build 3.5 million new housing units in the state by 2025 – was grossly exaggerated. While it’s real, the need for new housing is not as big as Newsom believed then; his goal was based on incomplete information.

The pullback in the governor’s goal was perhaps the most under-reported major story of this winter, buried in the flood of news coverage from both the impeachment trial of President Trump and California’s problem with homelessness. His goal had already proved unrealistic: unsold housing inventories in various parts of the state were high enough in 2019 that developers did not press for permits to build more than about one-fifth of what Newsom wanted during his first full year in office.

The aim of solving the supposedly gigantic housing shortfall was a main justification for SB 50, the failed attempt by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco to densify housing in almost all areas near light rail stations and major bus routes. The fact so much new housing is not really needed clearly took wind from the sails of SB 50.

But there nevertheless remains a big shortfall of affordable housing. Fewer than 25 percent of California households can now afford to buy homes – new or pre-existing – in the state. Less than 50 percent can afford so-called affordable units, which now average more than $500,000 apiece to build. Even when their sale price drops to about $350,000, while other prices in the same developments are lifted to compensate for it, many working families aspiring to home ownership still can’t buy.

That’s where high speed rail can come in. The planned bullet train route runs through some of the least pricey land in California, in both the Central Valley southeast of the San Francisco Bay area and in High Desert areas north and northwest of Los Angeles.

Building there could bring housing prices down enormously, as land costs remain a huge element in today’s high prices. Even though building in these places has increased, development remains slow because commutes to the state’s biggest job centers simply take too long.

Add the bullet train to the equation, and everything could change. Commute times between Tracy and the Silicon Valley, or from Bakersfield to Los Angeles, would be under one hour, far less time than many current freeway commutes. So no more 2:30 a.m. bus departures for workers who live in Tracy and work at Tesla’s Fremont plant.

Since 2018, Newsom has never repeated his observation that “The bullet train project…could be very useful in helping with housing.”

Instead, the state has heard Wiener and others gripe about the supposed evils of urban sprawl and single-family home zoning. But the prospect of living in a single-family home with breathing room played a big part in attracting millions of today’s Californians to the state during its big growth years. This was one reason for the failure of Wiener’s densification efforts.

For sure, tying the bullet train to new housing could create immense incentive to build in areas that get relatively little developer attention today.

It’s probably the most holistic, least controversial way to solve much of the housing problem.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. 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, visit www.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

Opinion: Housing, Homelessness and the Empty Rhetoric of LA Mayoral Hopefuls Looking to Replace Eric Garcetti!

October 19, 2021

October 19, 2021

For who will help Venice get rid of Mike Bonin? By Nick Antonicello There is an obvious “disconnect” between this...

Marina del Rey Man Arrested in Connection to 2019 Orange County Murder

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

Jonathan Ho, Nicholas Nguyen arrested in relation to murder of Jeffrey Cheng By Sam Catanzaro A Marina del Rey man...

Bird Wire’ to Be Installed at Mother’s Beach: YO! Venice Show – October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * ‘Bird Wire’ to Be Installed at Mother’s Beach * LADWP Fixes...

Landlord Sues Snap Over Fire At Former Venice Office

October 16, 2021

October 16, 2021

Benjamin Schonbrun files lawsuit against Snap, Inc. in connection to January fire By Dolores Quintana A Venice property owner is...

Venice RV Fire Under Investigation

October 15, 2021

October 15, 2021

No injuries reported in two separate incidents By Dolores Quintana Two RVs caught fire recently in Venice and Pacific Palisades. ...

LA City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas Charged With Bribery and Fraud

October 15, 2021

October 15, 2021

Politician allegedly sought benefits for close Relative in exchange for support of contracts benefiting USC By Sam Catanzaro LA City...

An Interview with Zach Rash, CEO of Coco Food Robotic Delivery

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

Coco Delivery, is a completely contactless food delivery service that uses human piloted robots to deliver meals from the restaurant...

RV Fire Near Whole Foods Under Investigation: YO! Venice Show – October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * First Baptist Church Of Venice Awarded Historic Designation * RV Fire...

Body Found in Venice Beach Waters Identifed

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

October 9 incident remains under investigation By Sam Catanzaro A man’s body that was found in the water near the...

U.S Secretary of Veterans Affairs Visits Veterans Encampment Outside VA

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

On Wednesday, the Secretary of U.S. Veterans Affairs and Mark Takano visited the veterans homeless encampment along san vicente blvd....

McRight/Wagner Venice Home and Studio on the Market

October 9, 2021

October 9, 2021

Westside Real Estate Scene October 11, 2021 By Dolores Quintana The McRight/Wagner home and studio is now on the market...

LA City Council Exploring Funding Rental Subsidies for 10,000 Homeless Individuals

October 8, 2021

October 8, 2021

Creation of “Housing Now” Program approved by lawmakers last month By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles City Council recently approved the...

Buscaino Seeks To Ban Bike Chop Shops

October 7, 2021

October 7, 2021

“Thieves have little or no fear of repercussions of this activity,” Councilmember says By Dolores Quintana  A Los Angeles lawmaker...

Person Faces Charges After 37 Pounds of Marijuana Found in Crashed Vehicle

October 5, 2021

October 5, 2021

California Highway Patrol investigating September 26 incident  By Sam Catanzaro A suspect faces charges after officers found 37 pounds of...