No matter where you live, you are probably familiar with the exorbitant cost of housing in California.
The median price of homes in the state has exceeded $ 800,000, more than double what it is nationally. Among the 50 largest cities in the country, we are home to the four hardest places to pay for a mortgage. And half of all homeless Americans live in California.
Our housing crisis has a seemingly simple solution, according to the laws of supply and demand: build more homes.
But for decades resistance from suburban homeowners blocked development as the problem only got worse.
On Thursday, the state took a step toward creating higher density neighborhoods as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two high-profile housing bills.
Although the bills, Senate Bills 9 and 10, have faced intense opposition in recent months, it is not all groundbreaking either, said Conor Dougherty, a New York Times reporter who writes on the economy in California.
But the housing reform package passed in California over the past four years, including these last two measures, “is probably the biggest change in housing in 50 years or more,” Conor told me.
What will the new laws do
SB 9 allows the construction of duplexes in most areas of the state, including places where apartments have long been prohibited. SB 10 reduces environmental rules on multi-family dwellings and makes it easier for cities to add high-density developments.
The former was the most controversial proposal, sparking furious opposition from homeowners and local government groups who called it “the beginning of the end of homeownership in California.”
The classic California suburb – rows of houses, each with its own yard and fence – is largely the product of what’s known as single-family zoning, a bylaw that dictates that there can only be one only house per plot of land. These laws prohibit, for example, the construction of a skyscraper in a residential cul-de-sac.
SB 9 essentially ends single-family zoning, but with one modest change: Under the bill, homeowners can build up to three additional units on their land, allowing single-family homes to be transformed into up to four units. .
A recent analysis from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, University of California, Berkeley, found that SB 9 would most likely lead to 714,000 new homes across the state over the next several years.
What previous housing laws did
While symbolically significant, SB 9 may not actually have as much of an impact as the housing policy changes that have already been passed, Conor told me.
State lawmakers have passed numerous housing reforms over the past four years in an attempt to boost housing production. (Governor Jerry Brown signed 15 housing bills in 2017 and Newsom signed 18 in 2019.)
Perhaps more importantly, California in 2017 relaxed laws to make it easier for homeowners to convert and rent accessory housing units, the technical term for garden houses – think “grandma’s apartments.” or “apartments of the in-laws”. These rules have since been relaxed even further.
So even before SB 9 appeared on the scene, California homeowners were allowed to have two units on single-family land – a main house and a separate guesthouse.
As these rear dwellings keep popping up, “people will complain that SB 9 is ruining their neighborhoods, when in fact they are in fact unhappy with the laws that have been passed semi-silently. several years ago, ”Conor told me.
If you read a story, do this
For days, a wildfire in central California has threatened groves of ancient redwoods, some of the oldest trees in the world. Firefighters even wrapped trees in Sequoia National Park in aluminum wrap to protect them from the blaze.
As of Sunday evening, the flames had reached several groves containing trees over 2,000 years old, reports the The US Express News. It was believed that General Sherman, the world’s largest tree by volume, was still safe.
What we eat
Several Los Angeles restaurants were recently added to the California Michelin Guide, my colleagues report. More details on the Michelin Guide website.
Where we travel
Today’s travel tip comes from Shelle McKenzie, a reader who recommends Avila Beach on the Central Coast. I support this suggestion – this is one of my favorite places to stop while driving between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
Tell us where to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected] We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.
Between forest fires, pandemic and drought, this summer in California was not easy.
So, with September 22nd marking the end of the season, I ask you to share what helped you get through this. Maybe it was a vacation you postponed, a trashy TV show, a delicious meal you cooked, or your nighttime stroll.
Send me your favorite summer souvenir to [email protected] as well as your name and the city where you live. If you want to include an image, make sure it is oriented horizontally.
And before leaving, some good news
This week, a Bay Area school will be renamed in honor of the country’s oldest ranger.
Betty Reid Soskin is a 99-year-old ranger at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, reports Bay City News.
On Wednesday, Juan Crespi Middle School in Contra Costa County will be renamed Betty Reid Soskin Middle School.
Also on this day, Soskin will be 100 years old.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. – Soumya
PS here the mini-crosswords of the day, and a clue: Large thick piece (5 letters).
Briana Scalia and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can join the team at [email protected].
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