Monday, July 03, 2017

Housing shortage: Does California have a crisis problem?

For the 30 years I’ve been a journalist at the Orange County Register, it feels like we Californians have hopped from crisis to crisis to crisis.

I’m beginning to think with have a crisis of crises.

We apparently just got over our water crisis, aka “the drought.” That followed the budget crisis with the ongoing prison and pension crises, after the foreclosure crisis which preceded old housing crises and the state’s hand in the savings and loan crisis, not to mention the energy crisis.

And I’m sorry if I failed to mention a crisis that touched you even more personally.

Let me say when there’s pretty universal agreement in California that we have a “crisis” — from both sides of the political aisle, no less — I get concerned. Both in logically finding the purported causes of the “crisis” to ignoring any unintended consequences of any alleged cure of said “crisis.”

So, let a guy who’s written more than a few stories about real estate — yes, probably too many — anger just about everyone by asking the almost unthinkable: “Do we really have a housing crisis?”

Yes, I look at the stats. Yes, I’ve read the studies. Yes, it’s pretty obvious that lots of housing in California is very expensive. Yes, there’s limited choices for house hunters and tenants seeking rentals. And I do very much feel for the numerous households who are impacted by the fallout of the shortfall of decent-priced housing.

But some recent research I’ve done on migration trends prompts me to ask the question — if a basic need like housing is supposedly in such terrible shape, why aren’t Californians fleeing to places with less costly and congested living? 

Equally confusing is a hunch that California’s housing “challenge” — and part of it may very well be a high price for paradise — may simply be the result of too much of a good thing. California’s housing has been expensive for a long time. The rare times it’s been cheap — amid broad economic slowdowns — few folks would (or could financially) grab their slice of the real estate pie.

You know, it wasn’t too long ago this state was flooded with foreclosures nobody wanted and vacant apartments. Part of today’s housing shortfall can be attributed to the economic rebound, which has created a slew of new jobs that have far outpaced developers’ willingness — some would argue ability — to aggressively jump into the construction game.

“Crisis” or mere “challenge,” there’s plenty of blame to go around for whatever ails housing! - More, OCRegister

Housing shortage: Does California have a crisis problem? – Orange ...


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