2017-05-18 / Editorials

To make housing affordable, build more housing

Guest opinion

Our region faces a severe housing-affordability crisis. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that teachers, police officers and firefighters could afford fewer than 9 percent of the homes in Ventura County, which makes it the fifth, least affordable housing market in the nation.

A separate report by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco last month noted that soaring housing prices make it difficult for families to even rent, much less own.

Realtors affiliated with the Conejo Simi Moorpark Association of Realtors in Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Simi Valley and Moorpark work with prospective buyers every day who have been priced out of living in our communities.

Do we really want our teachers and first responders to commute from as far away as the Antelope Valley every day?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The solution is simple: build more housing. Over-regulation and restrictive zoning are the major contributors to our housing crisis, and only market forces can determine what the area needs, everything from single-family homes to condominiums, mobile homes, accessory dwelling units and rental units.

Subsidies by state and local governments for apartments or rental housing for a small number of fortunate low-income residents do not provide enough housing for the entire community.

We now have a severe shortage in the marketplace for people who need housing and are not in a preferred income group or high-paying profession.

To help change this dire situation, Realtors support bills being considered in the state Capitol that would require local governments to streamline the permitting process for housing projects that meet all zoning requirements.

These measures would:

Appropriate funds to enforce existing state housing laws,

Ensure that local agencies cannot disapprove housing projects unless they clearly have an adverse impact on public health or safety,

Require local governments to include the number of new housing units actually approved during the year as part of their annual housing reports to the state,

Make those reports include an analysis of potential and actual nongovernmental constraints on housing developments.

Housing that working families can afford is absolutely essential to an area’s long-term prosperity. And we’ve already been put on notice: Amgen is moving some 500 jobs out of Thousand Oaks and consolidating many operations in Tampa, Fla., based in part on that city’s lower cost of housing.

The time to act is now.

The author, Debbie Hake, is president of the Conejo Simi Moorpark Association of Realtors.

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