Montejano Housing/Homelessness Q2
When it comes to the lack of affordable housing in Southern California, there’s been a failure to seriously address the crippling effect which government overregulation has on new housing construction. Most notably, policymakers have avoided making a sincere effort to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Originally enacted in 1970, CEQA was designed to ensure that environmental protections were instituted with new development projects like infrastructure and housing. Unfortunately, CEQA has evolved from a tool into a trap, ensnaring practically all new housing, regardless of how environmentally friendly or locally necessary. CEQA lawsuits have become the weapon of choice by parties intent on stopping the construction of both permanent and temporary housing.
From senior retirement communities to homeless shelters, hundreds of CEQA lawsuits have destroyed community hopes for sorely needed new housing. Even respected nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity have been the victim of frivolous CEQA attacks. The refusal by lawmakers to make common sense reforms to CEQA was one of the primary reasons the Building Industry Association of Southern California formed the Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation, which actively works in the courts to protect home builders from frivolous, anti-housing litigation.
Building new homes is far more than a business issue – it’s a quality of life imperative. Ultimately, there is only one way out of California’s housing crisis, and that’s to ensure that home builders can do business in a regulatory environment where actual construction can take place. This must begin with a serious effort by Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature to mend – not end – CEQA.