California’s governor just signed a mindblowing 56 bills into law yesterday, all aimed at solving the state’s housing affordability issues. Among the bills was legislation to streamline the development process, override density laws, and let institutions like colleges and churches build housing on their land. One of the bills was meant to tackle a common practice of using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA, pronounced “see-kwuh”) to block new housing by punishing those who abuse it for their own interest.
Not all of the bills were pro-property industry. Some expanded renter protections as well as lowered the maximum security deposit that landlords are allowed to ask for. But these bills show that housing has become a priority in California, enough so that they are willing to make it easier to build more of it. It isn’t just California, either. Colorado, Washington, and New Jersey have also recently passed housing bills.
The Federal government has a number of bills being proposed as well, like the Housing Is Infrastructure Act, the American Housing and Mobility Act, and the Affordable HOME Act. These all still need to go through committees before they can be voted on by Congress, which might take quite a while, especially since there is no Speaker of the House at the moment.
Increasing our housing supply has become a political movement. More than ever, there is support both from politicians and citizens to find ways to build more housing. The real estate industry would be wise to be part of the movement. If it can proved that building more housing, both affordable and market-rate, brings down the cost of living, it would go a long way to avoid other options that are far worse for landlords, namely rent control.