Report: "Urban v. suburban debate misses need for freer markets"

Controversial Senate Bill 50, introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, would make it easier for developers to build high-density apartments and condos around bus and rail stations.

Some support the bill that might make it easier to build new housing but the lesser known loopholes in the measure are what is turning people off.

Steven Greenhut, senior fellow and western region director, state affairs, at R Street, shared his take on the measure stating, "It has jump-started a much-needed conversation about housing construction and the way that limited supply is driving up home prices."

"The measure only deals with a small portion of the problem: rules that restrict higher-density construction in many suburban areas," Greenhut writes.

Fact of the matter is, half the residents in California want to protect the suburban model and the other half want to urbanize. Somebody who worked hard to buy a nice single family home does not want a five story apartment building with no parking popping up behind their backyard, but more housing serving lower income residents could save some people from leaving California.

Greenhut continues, "The debate over Wiener’s bill is, on the surface, about housing supply. As the Legislative Analyst’s Office has found, California is vastly underbuilding the number of houses needed to meet our population growth. It’s a supply and demand issue. Land-use regulations and fees, which account for as much as 40 percent of the cost of every home built, are artificially restricting supply. That’s why you need $800,000 for a modest home in Orange County."

In regards to critics with NIMBY attitudes, Greenhut says, 'I’m sorry, but the “I like how things are now” argument does not make for sound public policy.'

Read his full report here.

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