Why Housing Is Unaffordable in California

in California’s coastal metros more than two-thirds of cities and counties have policies explicitly aimed at restricting housing growth, such as limits on density. 

.. When a developer wants to break ground, local governments impose multilayered reviews that can mean getting approval from the municipal building department, health department, fire department and planning commission as well as elected officials.

Neighbors can delay or block projects using the state’s 1970 Environmental Quality Act. It isn’t coincidental that California’s housing prices soared during the 1970s. Getting a building permit in San Francisco takes about three times as long as in the typical American metro.

.. All told, it costs between $50,000 and $75,000 more to build a home in California than in the rest of the country. Building a low-income housing unit costs $332,000—about $80,000 more than the median home in Dallas or Phoenix.

.. Opponents accuse developers of being greedy, but their real gripe is that subdividing the lots would increase the housing stock and thereby diminish the value of their own homes.

.. California’s housing policies are intrinsically regressive. Limiting the supply drives up home values in well-to-do coastal communities, while pricing everyone else out of the market. Households in the lowest quartile in California spend about two-thirds of their incomes on housing; those in the top quartile spend just 16%.

.. The conundrum California’s landed gentry face is they want to boost their home values—and at the same time to have an abundant supply of low-wage workers to mow their lawns and clean their pools too.