Why Do We Build Houses for People?

The issues are many.

September 16, 2018


With all the controversy over every new housing project, why do we continue allowing developers to build houses and apartments for people?

One of the most discussed subjects circulating in our County today is the opposition to new housing.  Most people acknowledge the rising rental prices and the peaking housing prices. Rents are being increased because some people can pay more. Others are being forced out of their long-time rentals because they cannot.

Everyone acknowledges the need for shelter for the homeless population but there is extreme resistance to locating such a shelter near anyone.

The peaking market prices are caused by high demand. Statistics show we are now within $30,000 of the peak in 2005. It took 13 years to get here and who doesn’t remember that crash? Whenever demand exceeds supply prices go up. That just how it works. Remember how much people paid for a Cabbage Patch doll when supplies were limited?

Even with the acknowledgement of shortages, people object to housing developments for poor people exclaiming “enough of low income housing”. When a builder tries to build for upper low and lower middle-income people such as teachers, first responders and the like, people cry “too much traffic”, “too much noise”, “dust on my bushes” and “too many people”.

Some think builders sneak into towns and start building houses at will. In reality, the highest of public governance administers and oversees the process. When planners and builders realize communities are “built out” and congestion can’t be mitigated, they move to outlying areas. The cry then is the project is not in compliance with orderly development, its “leap frog” and it degrades the natural environment. Builders and developers are vilified when they are often required by state and local mandates to provide certain amenities not popular with some neighbors such as sidewalks and street lighting absent from adjacent neighborhoods.

Inclusionary zoning requires builders to provide a certain number of low income or affordable units within a project but in some projects have been allowed to buy their way out with set asides and alternate project financing. Mixing up a neighborhood with variations of affordability is American.

Seniors resist moving to be near grandchildren for two reasons: they cannot take their current property tax with them and they cannot buy a less expensive home. Therefore, in a response by California Realtors to the housing shortage, there is a measure on the November 2018 ballot which will allow seniors to buy a less expensive home and take their current taxes with them anywhere in the State. That will create a new supply of homes for first time or move up buyers without turning any dirt. “Yes on 5” eliminates the moving penalty!

I once heard a neighbor say how exciting it will be to meet the new neighbors coming to a small new development near her home. When it appeared the project was moving forward, she recanted. Why have we lost that enthusiasm?

In summary, it’s simple. New homes are built because people need a place to live.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is an associate broker with Century 21 Troop and has served Ventura County since 1976. She can be reached at 805.340.5025.  http://www.realestatemagic.com