There are many issues needing our attention, but none as crucial as the housing crisis.
It affects the ability of our schools, hospitals and businesses to attract and retain employees. Lack of housing affects the ability of our youth to live and work where they grow up. It affects the ability of parents to retire and remain close to family. It affects our economy, and the quality of our lives.
Each year California falls 180,000 housing units short. Artificial market constraints are not a solution. The deficiencies compound year after year after year, putting extreme pressure on the rental market, and limiting housing opportunities for our veterans, seniors and first-time buyers. The demand simply is not going away.
We must get serious about supply. We must do it in a smart and balanced way, seeking solutions that preserve the unique heritage of our region, and the natural beauty we hold dear. Supply and stewardship must go hand in hand.
Homeownership is in decline. The rate of homeownership in California is at 52 percent, the lowest it has been in decades. There is a lack of affordability, which underscores the supply and demand equation.
“With housing supply dropping to the lowest level in nearly seven years, California experienced an unusual jump in its median price at the end of the year when the market is supposed to cool down,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, senior vice president and chief economist for the California Association of Realtors.
“While low rates have been fueling demand in the second half of 2019, supply constraints continued to put a drag on the market and undercut the positive effect of low rates,” Appleton-Young said. “The surge in price is a byproduct of the imbalance between supply and demand as market competition continues to heat up.”
Throughout California, city, county and state governments are taking steps to tackle the housing crisis with the support of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The state recently approved SB 330, a bill that will increase the housing supply by reducing the barriers to housing development. It labels our housing shortage exactly what it is: a housing supply crisis.
The new law will create certainty for developers constructing new housing units, if the development is consistent with local planning, zoning and design requirements. It streamlines the local permitting process for five years in cities with more than 5,000 residents and where rents exceed 130 percent of the national average.
The city of Santa Barbara has taken its own action by introducing the Average Unit-Size Density Program (AUD). The intent of the program is to support the construction of smaller, more affordable residential units near transit and within easy walking and biking distance to commercial services and parks.
This will help ease the demand for housing by adding supply to the markets.
It’s time to get serious about supply. Realtors are at the forefront of the charge to promote housing and home ownership. We care about our communities and are actively involved in promoting housing solutions for our citizens.
If you have questions about housing supply, or other real estate-related needs, call your local Realtor or visit the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors website, sbaor.org.
— Staci Caplan is the president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.