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Better Housing Policy

Aside from ensuring the rental market is regulated, and that in determining affordability rents are accurately linked to income, regional government bodies such as the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) need to have more authority to spread development throughout the cities of Greater Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Currently, though these regional government agencies publish housing assessments, such as the ABAG Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA), local municipalities, particularly low-density suburbs, continue to obstruct and prevent the construction of new multifamily housing in their communities, forcing other municipalities and the rest of their region to take up the slack. The power needs to be shifted away from local City Councils and Planning Commissions (and the housing cartels that control them), to integrated regional housing development more closely tied to public transportation such as the LA Metro and the SFMTA.

 

Municipalities, for their part, need to adapt to modern times by streamlining the planning approval process, and overriding self-interested obstruction of good projects that provide much-needed, affordable, sustainable housing. Unfortunately, certain neighborhoods in San Francisco have tried (again driven by self-interested homeowners and landlords) to place a moratorium on new housing construction exactly at time when new construction is most needed. While some claim that the proposed moratorium will protect existing rent-controlled and lower income tenants from eviction, the truth is that homeowners and landlords are again trying to increase their property values and rents, which benefit from restricted housing supply and lack of competition from newer, better housing. The fact remains that if you build more units, then more people will have a place to live and rents will stabilize; and if you have straightforward, realistic regulation and enforcement of the rental market, then there would be no need for rent control.

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